[Federal Register: September 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 181)]
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE - Forest Service
Forest Certification and Its Implications for America's National Forests
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice; request for comment.
SUMMARY: The USDA, Forest Service is seeking comments on forest certification and its implications for America's national forests. This Federal Register notice is to serve as a formal public solicitation of views on the question of National Forest System certification and its implications, if national forest lands were to become certified under one or both of the two major certification systems being used in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres, or approximately eight percent of the nation's land, believes that it is important to better understand the implications of third-party certification of National Forest System (NFS) lands and, in 2005, began exploring independent, third party certification as a potential option. To this end, the Forest Service initiated the National Forest Certification Study, which resulted in the report, "National Forest Certification Study: An Evaluation of the Application of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standards on Five National Forests." This report documents the study in which third-party auditors evaluated current forest management practices on five national forest units using the existing certification standards of two certification programs, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Recognizing that the Forest Service has not decided whether it will seek certification, public outreach and discussion is requested to obtain public and stakeholder views on the National Forest Certification Study and its associated report, as well as the potential implications of NFS certification in general before determining how to proceed.
In addition to comments on the National Forest Certification Study, the Forest Service is particularly interested in public views on the following questions:
1. What are your general views on the implications of independent, third party certification of NFS lands?
2. Would certification improve the management of national forests?
3. Could certification make it more difficult to achieve national forest management goals?
4. What questions would certification be able to answer, and what needs would it be able to meet, on national forest lands?
5. Are there key questions or needs that certification would be unable or poorly suited to address?
6. Would independent, third party certification be an appropriate or effective tool, given the unique role of national forests?
Or, because of that unique role, would certification be particularly inappropriate or ineffective?
Detailed information about the NFS Certification Study is available on the following Web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/projects/forestcertification/index.shtml.
DATES: Comments must be received, in writing, on or before November 17, 2008. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent praticable.
Click here to read the complete Federal Register Notice about Forest Certification and Its Implications for America's National Forests