Forest Stewardship Council and Lumber
Today when you want to buy green products the Forest Stewardship Council "FSC" logo is what you look for. To that end FSC has done an outstanding job branding and conditioning consumers to feel good about that logo and the products it is on. I applaud them for that and do not doubt their methods, but I question how effective FSC really is when it comes to lumber. There are other certification and verification schemas in the world that go deeper and provider traceability to the boards we use.
TLTV and VLO/VLC Go Deeper
Outside of North America there are quite a few other programs that go beyond the purview of FSC and can truly provide chain of custody data back to the stump. TLTV (Timber Legality & Traceability Verification), VLO (Verified Legal Origin) and VLC (Verification of Legal Compliance) are 3 which focus very much on the actual logs and the land from which they were harvested. These schema allow us to actually trace a board back to a log and back to a land concession. VLC even looks at how the log was harvested and whether no trace logging was employed.
In the end there is no single certification that can ensure the wood we work is totally green and legal, but often a combination of several programs.
Mike Davies says
So, what’s the protocol/ettiquette on asking these questions. If I go into a place that sells wood and there’s a lift of walnut shorts or african mahogony for sale by the board foot, I can’t just say, “lemme see the paper trail, yo!” Can I? I mean, if it’s a ton of paperwork to trace this stuff, they aren’t gonna want to pull it up for every guy who needs 18 board feet for a side table, right? And will they even have it, or will it be at “head office,” or something?
Good question! I answer this in more detail in episode 22 but in short, start with: “did you import this lumber directly or buy it from someone else already in the country”. If a domestic species, ask, “do you know where this lumber was logged?”. They key is to state your question from a curiosity standpoint and not accusatory. You want to know the story to further your enjoyment of the craft rather than pointing fingers.