By Jeremy Poirier
Fiber Certification Manager and CFM Group Manager, International Paper
Following a growing customer demand for certified products, International Paper established Certified Forest Management LLC – our own Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management group – which provides a cost-effective means for small private landowners to become FSC certified.
International Paper is one of the world’s leading producers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper. Our mission is to improve lives, our planet, and our performance by transforming renewable resources into products people depend on every day. With trees as our primary raw material, our entire business depends on the sustainability of forestlands. We also have a long-standing commitment to ensure the fiber we use is sourced from responsibly-managed forests.
The overwhelming majority of the fiber we use to manufacture products is derived from private landowners, and a significant portion of that fiber comes from small private family-owned forests. Landowners of these small private forests are often reluctant to take on the additional costs or administrative burden associated with certifying their property to a forest certification standard.
These barriers drove the founding of Certified Forest Management LLC. Through the initiative, International Paper guides landowners/wood suppliers throughout the entire certification process. Our staff develops management plans, conducts high conservation value assessments, monitors forest management activities over time and represents landowners during third-party certification audits. It’s a turnkey operation that has resulted in a ‘why not?’ proposition for most qualified landowners.
Since 2012, Certified Forest Management LLC has directly enrolled and actively maintained FSC forest management certification for 210 private landowners in ten states, encompassing approximately 520,000 acres. In addition, International Paper achieved a 31 percent increase in certified fiber over our 2010 baseline and increased our annual volume of FSC-certified tons by approximately 1.6 million tons.
Certified Forest Management LLC promotes environmental responsibility and working forests while providing an incentive for landowners for a low-cost method to become FSC certified. Ultimately, this has enabled International Paper to deliver the FSC-certified products our customers want.
International Paper received the 2017 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management for its Certified Forest Management LLC project.