Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities

August 28th, 2011 | Posted by tjones in Green Building | Nature | Sustainability

Deforestation is a major environmental issue – but not only in the tropical rainforests of the world.  Throughout North America, many forests have been degraded and permanently damaged from clear-cut harvesting techniques.  Clear-cutting has a variety of significant negative impacts on local ecosystems wherever it occurs: it leads to the loss of habitat for wildlife species; a loss of jobs and other economic activity once the forest is cleared; a greater possibility of invasive species and other unwanted flora establishing itself on the clearcut site; a decrease in property values; and a decrease in available outdoor recreation opportunities.

Clearcutting can also result in massive soil erosion.  A study conducted at the University of Oregon found that clear cut areas often suffer three times as much erosion due to slides than areas that were never clear cut; and when logging roads are included in these calculations, slide activity is five times greater relative to nearby forested areas. [Click here for the report].  Moreover, a study from Southern University Carbondale in Illinois found that even after 30 years of recovery of a clear cut oak forest, natural occurrence of native oak trees was dramatically reduced and the presence of other species was greatly increased.  Clear cutting didn’t only result in the loss of forest habitat and ecosystem in 1973, when that forest was first harvested – the clear cutting resulted in a permanent (and, arguably, unnatural) alteration to the area’s forest ecosystem. [Click here for the report].

Enter the Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities (HFHC) partnership located in Portland, Oregon.  HFHC is an innovative and collaborative project founded by Sustainable Northwest, an NGO dedicated to building partnerships that promote environmentally-sound economic development in Northwest American communities.

The HFHC Partnership is a network of people, organizations, and small businesses working together to accomplish a common vision: to build awareness of, and demand for, regionally and responsibly-produced wood products that are created in rural communities.  According to their website, the network not only raises that awareness, but “enhances rural capacity to produce and market goods that benefit both entrepreneurs and forest ecosystems.”  The idea is that through creating a sustainable wood economy, we can build a rural Northwestern economy that doesn’t rely on the destruction of forest ecosystems to give people a stable livelihood.

Sustainable Northwest not only supports the enlargement of this network, but also runs a for-profit subsidiary which promotes and distributes HFHC member products into the marketplace. Sustainable Northwest Wood connects small wood mills to green building markets to help promote not only sustainable forestry, but to promote green building and construction as well.  In this manner, HFHC also functions as a marketing service which helps promote healthy forests, and sustainable local economies.

And to back up their claims of sustainability, HFHC relies on the international standard of sustainable forest management: Forest Stewardship Council certification.  HFHC maintains a group certificate for FSC Chain of Custody, tracking wood products from the forest to the consumer.  According to the HFHC, 25 businesses participate in the group chain of custody.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Members of the Health Forests, Healthy Communities partnership have all of their wood products certified under FSC guidelines, and all of the lumber products that we carry at Green Depot are likewise FSC-approved.  Lumber products with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal are sourced from forests that are managed responsibly and sustainably.  The FSC vets forest managers and lumber production companies to ensure that their methods are sustainable before going to market.  Certification criteria require that logging methods preserve biodiversity, reduce environmental impacts, maintain the rights of indigenous communities and forestry workers, include a long-term forest management plan, comply with laws and international treaties, and that logging practices do not destroy forests, protect the habitats of endangered wildlife, and that profits from commercial forest endeavors are shared equitably with forest communities.  The FSC is non-governmental, non-for-profit, and all lumber producers participate in the program voluntarily.

Green Depot carries FSC-Certified wood, and can provide Chain of Custody (CoC) documentation, ensuring total tracking of the supply chain from forest to mill to processor, distributor, or treater; and finally, to delivery at our warehouses or jobsite.

In particular, check out one of the HFHC products we carry: Butcher Block Countertops, or Madrona flooring!

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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