Take a hike in an award-winning forest

Rainforest Alliance's Smartwood Program commends New York for environmentally and socially sound land management

provided by Rainforest Alliance

ext time you take hike in a New York state forest, you may want to stop and give a little cheer. The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood staff recently completed a one-year review of New York's land management practices, which won SmartWood Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in 2001 for environmentally, socially and economically responsible management. The certification applies to all 700,000 acres of New York's public “multiple use” forestlands managed for fish and wildlife, recreation, grazing, watershed and timber products. SmartWood requires an annual review of all certified clients, which like the initial audit is carried out by a specially trained team of forestry examiners. According to their report, the NYDEC has “made substantial progress,” “was well prepared and organized” and overall demonstrated “tremendous improvement in all areas.”

    “This independent evaluation reaffirms that our public forest system is well managed and provides an enormous range of benefits to our residents, economy and environment,” DEC Commissioner Erin M. Crotty said. “Under Governor Pataki's leadership, the State has made significant investments to enhance our management and stewardship capabilities for our 700,000-acre state forest system. We are committed to ensuring the sustainability of these lands to provide wood products and outdoor recreation, while also preserving wildlife habitat and clean air and water for future generations.”

    Certification is a conservation tool pioneered by the Rainforest Alliance in 1989 and now used around the world to evaluate forestry operations and forest product companies. The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program awards an independent FSC seal of approval to those operations that meet strict standards for environmental and social well-being. To date, the Rainforest Alliance has certified more than 800 operations and more than 13.8 million acres worldwide.

    In order to receive FSC certification, New York's DEC had to meet 75 rigorous criteria, verifying that its forests were being managed for long-term ecological, social and economic health. Management standards require selective cutting practices, the protection of wildlife habitat, the conservation of biological resources and the minimization of damage to the forest during harvesting. All logs as well as timber products originating on DEC lands carry the FSC seal of approval, assuring consumers that their purchases derive from sustainably managed forests.

    “While NY-DEC was operating at a high level when they entered the SmartWood program over a year ago, they have since made significant strides in becoming even better forest managers,” said SmartWood's Northeastern Regional Manager Dave Bubser. “DEC has not only met all of its first year conditions but is actually ahead of schedule in satisfying conditions that we will be evaluating in the years ahead.” To read the public summary, go to: www.smartwood.org/reports/pdfs/nydec.pdf.

    Based in New York City, the Rainforest Alliance's mission is to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that live within them by implementing better business practices for biodiversity conservation and sustainability. The Rainforest Alliance is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the only internationally recognized accreditation organization for forest certification operating on a global scale, and which the Rainforest Alliance was instrumental in founding. For more information please contact the SmartWood/Rainforest Alliance office in Richmond, Vermont at (802)434-5491 or the Rainforest Alliance's New York City office at (212)677-1900, or visit www.rainforest-alliance.org or www.smartwood.org.