Newsletter Stories


Thursday, November 15.2001
First Plantation Forestry Certification Awarded In the U.S.

When the FSC Principles and Criteria (P&C) were first ratified by the membership, there were only nine principles and associated criteria. At that time, the document was entitled “FSC Principles and Criteria for Natural Forest Management." Two years later, the P&C were formally augmented by a tenth principle pertaining to plantation forestry.


In doing so, the FSC membership expressly determined that well-managed plantation forestry operations should: a) be accepted as an important ingredient in the global strategy for meeting human needs, b) be potentially certifiable under the FSC scheme, provided that they are found to be in compliance with the expanded P&C. Subsequently, there have been extensive areas of plantation forestry operations certified under the FSC (awarded by several FSC-accredited certification bodies), primarily in the southern hemisphere.

FSC’s position on plantation forestry remains controversial, in many cases due to confusion over the term “plantation." In North America, the term “plantation" is widely used in reference to all planted stands. In contrast, a plantation in the FSC vernacular is an area managed under a plantation forestry regime in which most of the characteristics and attributes of a natural forest are absent. Thus, planted stands are not necessarily “plantations."

When plantation forestry operations are evaluated for potential certification, there are several key requirements that tend to be most determinative of the final decision. These key requirements include:

• Plantation forestry operations cannot entail the conversion of natural forests, except for a small portion of the operation.

• A portion of the plantation forestry area must be managed to maintain or restore natural vegetative cover.

• Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) cannot be deployed or otherwise used.

• Within the context that an operation is considered as plantation forestry rather than natural forest management, there should be efforts to encourage greater levels of biological diversity.

Earlier this fall, SCS issued its first plantation forestry certification in the U.S.—Potlatch’s Hybrid Poplar operation in eastern Oregon. This 17,000 acre operation is located on ex-agriculture land in the arid region near Boardman, Oregon. Without irrigation, neither agriculture nor silviculture is possible in this region. No natural forests have or will be converted in association with this plantation forestry operation, as there are no natural forests in the vicinity. The SCS evaluation team determined that award of certification was merited with conditions designed to address some specific aspects of the operation. For instance, one condition of the certification requires restoration of a portion of the property to the native shrub-steppe vegetative community. The public summary of the certification report can be found on the SCS web site at www.scs1.com.