Earth Day Conservation Celebration

Rainforest Alliance's Smartwood Certifications reach 25-million-acre milestone

provided by The Rainforest Alliance

he Rainforest Alliance marked Earth Day 2003 with a major milestone: the New York-based nonprofit has now certified 25 million acres of working forest land for responsible environmental and social management. Under the guidance of the organization's SmartWood program, forestry companies throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas are implementing techniques for harvesting the timber they need, while ensuring that forests – and all of the millions of plant and animals they harbor – are conserved for the future.

    “Certification is a profoundly important conservation tool, with the potential to change land-use practices around the world, while supporting rural communities and improving worker well being,” said Rainforest Alliance executive director Tensie Whelan. “This Earth Day we want to remind people that everything they buy has an environmental and social impact, and that they can choose responsibly by looking for eco-labels like the Rainforest Alliance's certified seal. It's our promise that what they are buying was grown and harvested sustainably, by farmers, workers, and companies that care.”

    Every year, the Rainforest Alliance rigorously audits each certified forest operation through annual on-site assessments, continuous public and private consultation and constant public reporting. Products crafted from certified wood include paper, furniture, musical instruments, framing lumber, plywood, veneer, molding and millwork, flooring and picture and window frames, to name a few.

    This Earth Day, the Rainforest Alliance celebrated the fact that...

  • Tembec Inc., one of North America's largest wood products and forest management operations, achieved SmartWood certification for responsible management of 5 million acres (a forest the size of Massachusetts) in the Gordon Cosens Boreal Forest in Northeastern Ontario, making it the largest certified forest in Canada and one of the largest in the world.
  • Priluzje Leskhoz, located in the Komi Republic and comprising an area of nearly 2 million acres, became the first SmartWood-certified forest in Russia. This certification is more than triple the area of Russia's previously FSC-certified forestland.
  • There are now five SmartWood-certified paper mills, nine printers and two groups of paper distributors in North America.

    Not only do these landmark certifications make various items at consumer outlets such as the Home Depot and Ikea increasingly green, but they are part of an overall effort to transform the entire marketplace. Along with performing certifications, SmartWood continues to build links between the growing supply of sustainably sourced products and the increasing number of mainstream environmentally-minded distributors, retailers and consumers.

    Founded in 1989, the Rainforest Alliance's Smart Wood program was the world's first to certify responsible forestry practices on a global level and with equal emphasis on social, environmental and economic values. Though it initially focused on tropical forests, today the Rainforest Alliance works in all forest types – tropical, temperate and boreal. SmartWood is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international body that establishes certification standards and accredits and monitors certifiers.

    In addition to global forests, the Rainforest Alliance's conservation programs focus on agriculture and tourism as well. In 58 countries around the globe, the nonprofit group is helping communities, businesses and governments to change their land-use practices, and working with partners to set standards for the long-term use of resources. Those that comply with the Alliance's rigorous standards are awarded a seal, guaranteeing their customers that they are conscientious, conservation-minded companies.