Local Certified Wood Products Meet Consumer Demands for Green Goods

(Aitkin, MN) - If you can brave the cold, you can see the green economy at work in Northern Minnesota where dozens of landowners, land managers and private companies have committed to producing certified wood and paper products that meet global standards for responsible forestry.


"We’ve been developing the linkages to support responsible forestry since the late ‘90s and you can see the benefits to the companies, the forests, and the consumers," says Ross Wagner, Economic Development & Forest Industry Coordinator in  in Aitkin County.


Certification assures the customer that the products are sourced from forests that are managed to rigorous standards of responsible forestry. Certified forests are audited each year and reports are publically available.


Traditional forest products like lumber and paper  are being produced by certified companies in Minnesota. Non-timber products such as balsam boughs and Christmas trees are also being harvested from Minnesota’s certified forests.  Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet buys certified pulpwood to support their customers’ demands for responsible paper.


“We’re seeing increased demand for certified products; pulp and paper. Certification has been a good move for our company and is an integral part of our paper business,” says Patrick Galdonik with Sappi Fine Paper North America, Cloquet, Minnesota; an FSC and SFI chain-of-custody certified business.


“In 2008, approximately 75% of the timber harvested from Aitkin County managed forestlands went to a FSC certified mill,” states Mark Jacobs Aitkin County Land Commissioner.  “To illustrate the recent growth,  that number was less than 5% just 3-years ago!”


This winter a full range of forest products have been harvested from certified public and private forestlands in Northern Minnesota.


One of the private woodland owners producing certified products is Roger Howard, former land commissioner for Aitkin County, wood crafter and artisan.  Howard uses materials harvested from his own certified forest to produce a full range of items, including bowls, shelving, coat racks, household items, and picture frames.  Howard recently filled an order for picture frames that used four different kinds of wood, all harvested from his land.


“Responsible forestry means managing for biodiversity and with that type of forestry you can produce a lot of different products that customers are interested in,” says Howard.


Howard has partnered with the Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to plan his forest management and have his forest certified. The local SWCD offers an FSC group certification program for landowners with at least 10 acres of forest in the county.


The Aitkin County Economic Development Coordinator also helps small businesses participate in certification.  Neil Stecker of Custom Creations has been a member of the Upper Mississippi Certified Forest Products Group for a number of years.  Custom Creations produces a full range of cabinets and fixtures using local, FSC-certified wood.


"The continued success of certification in Minnesota helps demonstrate how important the links are between responsible forest management and local businesses that depend on a sustainable wood supply," says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners, a non-profit Minneapolis-based organization that helps land managers and forest product companies participate in forest certification opportunities.




For more information:


Upper Mississippi Certified Forest Products Group