Linking Wisconsin’s Certified Forests & Markets

Lead Author: Dr. Jeff Howe

Publish date: 01.01.2007

 

A Needs Assessment to Identify the Challenges, Resources & Opportunities

 

Wisconsin has been a leader in identifying and implementing forest resource strategies designed to address the broadest needs of its constituents as possible. Forest certification is a key example of that commitment to both innovation in approach and sustainability as an outcome. Key to the success of a new strategy is the early evaluation of obstacles to success and the willingness to address those constraints. The purpose of this project was to identify informational constraints to the development of a market for materials produced by Wisconsin’s certified forests.

 

Forest certification is a complex concept, and this study found that not only was there limited awareness of forest certification activities within the state but also that there were a number of key misperceptions about the nature of both the participation on the part of forest managers in the state and of certification itself. Perhaps one of the key constraints to the growth of the certified market is embodied in the fact that a majority of endchannel members of the wood products marketplace (e.g. contractors, builders, and retailers) rely heavily on their vendors for product information. This study suggests vendors are largely ignorant of certification issues and therefore traditional information transfer channels are inadequate.

 

The overall awareness of certification in Wisconsin has improved over the course of this two-year project, as the simple process of interviewing organizations and providing workshops impacted hundreds of participants. The green building movement and other trends also continue to develop. This momentum may continue to build on its own, but more strategic efforts may both increase this growth as well as steer it in ways that maximize the benefits to Wisconsin’s forests, communities, and businesses.