Concern about worldwide forest destruction has created a demand for goods and services produced from well-managed forests. Society wants forests managed to meet our present needs without compromising the forests’ ability to meet the needs of future generations: sustained wood supply, jobs, healthy forests that support a diversity of plants and animals, clean water, clean air, recreation, and many other values and services.
Since the middle of the 19th century, Maine has been gaining forest acreage, not losing it like some parts of the world. Maine’s forests have been harvested for wood products for over 200 years, yet 90% of the state remains forested - the highest percentage in the nation. Timber harvest and overall forest growth rates are currently in a rough balance.
Now a relatively recent phenomenon has emerged that has had a significant, positive influence on Maine’s forests and forest industry: forest certification. Forest certification is a market-based, voluntary, non-regulatory approach to improve forestry. Forest certification evaluates if forestry management is environmentally and ecologically responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable. While certification is voluntary, landowners and manufacturers see it as a way to stay efficient, find new markets, remain credible, and identify areas for improvement.
Depending on the system chosen, either the land, the forester, or the logger may be certified. The driving factor behind certification in Maine appears to be a desire to satisfy public concerns over forest management as opposed to seeking financial benefit in the marketplace.
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