The Weyerhaeuser Company has acquired Longview Timber’s approximately 645,000 acres of forestland in Washington state and Oregon, meaning it now owns or manages nearly 20.5 million acres of forestland in the U.S. and Canada, making the company one of the world’s largest private sustainable forestry operations.
Weyerhaeuser says it is dedicated to industry leadership in forest stewardship and sustainability and will continue to live up to its principles as it brings the Longview Timber operations into its portfolio. All of Weyerhaeuser’s North American forests are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard, which ensures that its forest management practices meet a broad spectrum of social, economic and environmental requirements.
With more than 240 million acres within its purview, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative is the largest forest certification standard in the world. Certification criteria are established by a diverse group of community organizations, environmental groups, industry, academia and government agencies.
“By successfully achieving independent, third-party certification of its lands to the SFI standard, Weyerhaeuser has demonstrated a strong commitment to responsible forestry and to the communities that depend on a variety of forest benefits,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
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To become SFI certified, auditors assess compliance in dozens of factors key to responsible, renewable forest management, including demonstrated performance in forest productivity and health, sustainable harvesting, protection of water resources, promotion of biodiversity and fish and wildlife habitat, protection of at-risk species, legal compliance, training, ongoing research and continuous improvement, and more.
“Customers expect accountable forest stewardship, and consumers want to make informed buying decisions,” said Tom Gideon, Weyerhaeuser’s executive vice president of timberlands. “SFI certification, along with complementary programs such as the American Tree Farm System for family forest owners, provides assurance that Weyerhaeuser wood is sourced responsibly.”
These market forces are spurring significant growth in forest certification. For example, the acreage certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative has grown 71 percent since 2007. Despite such growth, however, global forest certification stands at about 10 percent. In contrast, 100 percent of Weyerhaeuser’s forests worldwide are certified.
“We achieved 100 percent certification in our North American operations several years ago, and this year we also achieved full certification for our forests in Uruguay,” Gideon said. “It’s a standard we’ve set for all of our operations. And while we’re proud of our accomplishments, we continue to focus on continuous improvement as one of the world’s preeminent sustainability leaders.”
In related forest news, earlier this year Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Gucci and Heinz reported their forest impacts for the first time. However, the Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) Report released in February found that the gap between leading companies and laggards is growing. Every year FFD asks the world’s biggest firms to reveal their impact on forests based on the use of five chief commodities — soy, palm oil, timber and pulp, cattle products and biofuels.