There are two main certification systems that allow a firm to claim that their wood is "sustainable." The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) was designed by the wood and paper products industry, is the most popular system in the U.S. and seems to be only marginally better than nothing. For example, there's this little quote:
"Average size of clearcut harvest areas does not exceed 120 acres, except when necessary to respond to forest health emergencies or other natural catastrophes."120 Acres?!!? Average?!! Except??
I took a few minutes to compose myself after reading this amazing example of greenwashing, and then took heart that although SFI is the most popular standard in the US, it is not generally accepted as "green" by anyone reputable. From "LEED," the green building standard that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, to environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation, most legitimate environmental organizations do not consider SFI to be a true standard for sustainability.
Instead, these organizations and many others use the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, standard. FSC was designed by environmental organizations and is generally considered to be the greener of the two standards. However, not everyone agrees with FSC. When I mentioned to Chad the Horse Logger the other day that part of my internship was to get FSC certification, for Sustainable Woods, he told me that he didn't think it went far enough because it allowed for some clearcutting.
I've just started my research, so I don't know the extent to which FSC allows for clearcutting. I only hope its less than 120 acres...
-Peace and Plants
Sustainable Forestry Initiative: www.sfiprogram.org/
SFI vs FSC (pdf): www.yale.edu/forestcertification/pdfs/auditprograms.pdf