Richard W. (Dick) Brinker
The U.S. Green Building Council is inviting comments on the draft language for its LEED rating system. SFI Inc. has invited views on the treatment of third-party forest certification, which must be “FSC or better” according to the latest USGBC credit language. In this post, Dr. Richard W. (Dick) Brinker, Dean Emeritus, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, and a member of the social chamber of the SFI Board of Directors, looks at how SFI supports logger training.
One way to make sure forests are managed well is to make sure the people on the ground – loggers and landowners – are trained well. Training has been my passion for more than 25 years, and it has been a firm principle of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) since the start.
I’ve conducted and coordinated extension education activities for professional loggers, foresters, and landowners since 1988. And as far as I’m concerned, the creation of SFI was a dream come true – it meant logging professionals, and forests, across the United States and Canada were able to benefit from our work. The Forest Resources Association estimates that since 1995 about 130,000 resource and logging professionals have been trained in responsible forestry through the SFI program or its recognition of other programs.
Training and Education is one of the 14 principles for responsible forestry in the SFI 2010-2014 Standard. Program participants must make sure their staff and contractors are properly trained, and they must be part of a local SFI Implementation Committee to improve training. If they source fiber from uncertified lands, they must encourage the landowner to use qualified professionals.
SFI is the only certification program in North America with these requirements. And it’s making a huge difference. States such as Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee point to it as one reason for consistent improvement in their best management practices to protect water quality.
And while training is important to me, I’ve been privileged to be involved with SFI in many ways. I’m a member of the independent SFI Board of Directors, and from 2002 to 2008 I was part of the SFI External Review Panel. Both of these roles are like having tenure at a university – we are chosen for our knowledge and expertise, and granted the independence and freedom we need to contribute and say what we think. That’s just one of the many strengths of the SFI program.
I’ve seen for myself how training can improve forest practices – and I know that when it comes to training for logging professionals, SFI is far ahead of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Therefore, it meets the “FSC or better” requirements set out in the draft language for the LEED rating system. If the U.S. Green Building Council wants LEED to achieve as much as possible for our forests, and utilize a truly sustainable resource, its credit structure will include SFI certification.
Dr. Brinker was Dean and Professor in of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, from 1998 until his retirement in 2011. During this time, it became one of the most highly regarded and productive natural resource programs in the southern region of the United States.