On November 19, 2004 the University of Washington's Charles Lathrop Pack Forest achieved green certification through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), becoming the first university in the western United States to certify their school forest. The 4,300 acre school forest is located south of Eatonville, WA.
Forest certification has recently emerged as a non-regulatory, voluntary approach to achieving best management practices in the production of timber and the protection of wildlife, water, and other resources. It is a market-based approach where green certified wood demands either a price premium or exclusive market access relative to non-certified wood.
University of Washington staff worked throughout 2004 designing and implementing its SFI program as a critical component of the new Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest. The mission of the Center will be to investigate topics of concern for economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable forestry.
The third party independent SFI audit conducted November 1 and 2, verified the quality of forest management occurring at Pack Forest. Notable practices identified during the audit include the level of detail in Pack Forest's Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan, the outreach and education program, and the corrective action procedure used when problems are identified. Opportunities for improvement were also suggested, many of which have already been adopted.
In seeking SFI certification, the University of Washington welcomed the opportunity of an independent review of its forest management operations. Pack Forest has previously been a member of the American Tree Farm System; by achieving the more rigorous SFI certification, the University of Washington has demonstrated its commitment to high quality forest management and emerging systems to certify sustainable forestry. Through SFI certification and the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest, the University of Washington expects to become an active leader in the demonstration and development of sustainable forestry practices.
B. Bruce Bare, Dean