The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program recently announced its certification of a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation group to Forest Stewardship Council standards.
The group, made up of private forest landowners throughout the state of Massachusetts, is only the second program run by a state forestry group to receive FSC certification.
"We see state forestry certifications as a growing trend," says David Bubser, SmartWood regional manager for the Rainforest Alliance. "States are opening up to the idea that independent, third-party verification can demonstrate that they are implementing responsible forestry practices."
The Massachusetts certification follows the December 2008 certification of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Managed Forest Law group. The Department of Conservation and Recreation is the first state-run group certification, however, to use an "opt-in" system, which means that land owners must request to be involved in the certification.
An "early adopter" group of seven landowners who own 700 acres were audited in June 2009, according to the Rainforest Alliance. Since the audit, an additional 92 landowners who collectively own another 19,300 acres have declared their intentions to join the group. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation anticipates the enrollment will continue to expand as members learn of the benefits of FSC certification.
This certification is separate from the FSC certificate awarded to Massachusetts state lands from 2004-2009.
For information, visit www.rainforest-alliance.org.