The Nature Conservancy’s Two Hearted River Forest Reserve received its first-ever certification in Michigan from the Forest Stewardship Council after an extensive process that started nearly five years ago, according to Tina Hall, The Nature Conservancy’s director of conservation programs.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only global forest certification system whose standards for responsible forest management encompass conservation, social and business values. Its trademark allows corporations and consumers worldwide to recognize products legally harvested from well-managed forests.
More than 225 million acres of forest in more than 70 countries have been certified to FSC’s standards. Several thousand products use FSC-certified wood and carry the FSC trademark.
“Achieving this high level of certification demonstrates our commitment to managing our forests in the most sustainable way possible for people and nature,” Hall said. “We need to make selective harvests to encourage the re-growth of diverse forest species. While we knew we needed to cut trees to do this, we wanted to make sure we were doing it the right way.”
The Nature Conservancy acquired 23,338 acres in the Two Hearted as part of the Northern Great Lakes Forest Project, a 271,338-acre conservation project with the State of Michigan in which conservation easements and properties were acquired from Forestland Group, LLC. The multi-year project closed on its first phase in 2005 and is expected to close on the final phase in March 2010.
After starting a timber inventory and management plan of the Two Hearted Forest in 2006, the Conservancy submitted the initial management plan to the State of Michigan in 2007 as required by the Commercial Forest Act. During 2008, the first timber harvesting of the Two Hearted River Forest was planned and the management plan was expanded to encompass all FSC regional standards. The Nature Conservancy hired Cold Springs Forestry to conduct the first timber harvest in early 2009, utilizing and implementing all of the management practices and associated documentation to ensure compliance with FSC standards.
“FSC certification will enable us to keep a long-term eye towards effective management while having a positive economic impact,” said Jon Fosgitt, a forester at Cold Springs Forestry who works closely with The Nature Conservancy in the Two Hearted Forest.
Forest certification, the premier market-based, non-regulatory conservation tool, is designed to recognize and promote transparency in forest products trade. Its use is central in efforts to halt illegal logging, and it holds the potential to transform international forest trade while conserving forests around the world. Through certification, forest management practices are evaluated by an independent third-party according to an agreed-upon set of standards.
In October 2009 the property was visited and evaluated by a forester from SmartWood (a third party FSC forest auditor). With the successful audit completed, the property is now officially FSC-certified and all timber products that The Nature Conservancy sells from the property can be sold under the FSC trademark.
Hall said that timber harvested from the Two Hearted has been used to heat 10-15 homes in Newberry, made into railroad ties and sold as pulp to two paper companies. She said future timber harvests will carry the FSC trademark.
An online slideshow provides images of the timber at http://nature.org/twohearted.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.