- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

OAKVILLE, Wash. (AP) — There are tall, thick alders and gargantuan maples on John Henrikson’s land that could line his pockets handsomely if he cut them for timber, but he leaves most of them standing — cutting only the ones nearing the end of their life span.

“I’m not going to touch this,” he said, admiring one of the red alders on his 100 acres in this tiny town in southwestern Washington. “This is an unbelievably healthy tree.”

That attitude goes along with his desire to get “green certification” — sort of like an “organically grown” label on produce — for his trees.

He said he has thought about trying to do that through the environmentally strict Forest Stewardship Council, an independent group based in Germany that promotes environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial use of forests, but he can’t afford it. It can cost thousands of dollars just to get a tract of land checked out for that organization.

Soon, though, Mr. Henrikson and several other western Washington forest owners will band together in their own certification group. At most, a five-year contract will cost him $1,000, and he will get help marketing his eco-friendly wood to mills.

“This is a good opportunity for me,” Mr. Henrikson said. “The alternative prior to this was doing it on my own, which would be too expensive and a difficult process trying to figure out by myself.”

Green certification of forest products is an emerging market that is gaining ground in places like Washington state that encourage environmentally sound building techniques for big public projects.

In addition, major retailers including Home Depot and Lowe’s have purchasing policies that favor certified wood. Most of the flooring that Starbucks buys is green certified, and Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is a big buyer, said Michael Washburn, vice president of forestry and marketing for the U.S. chapter of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Landowners aren’t expecting to make a quick buck because most mills aren’t clamoring for green-certified wood. They see green certification as more of a rewarding seal of approval for the extra care they take logging their land than any sure economic bet.

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