Vermont Coverts Cohort:  Woodlands for Wildlife
These are the amazing people in my cohort at last week’s Vermont Coverts workshop: “Woodlands for Wildlife”.  The word “covert” (pronounced cuh-vert) is an old English term meaning a thicket, home or hiding place for animals.

After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about.  How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability?  My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts:  Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training.  What a great idea!

Mess is best when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife
One of the key points we learned about managing our woodlands is that “mess is best” when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife.  Forests need to be thinned with plenty of coarse woody debris remaining on the floor to provide cover for animals.

The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT.  Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont.  Because 80% of Vermont’s forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state’s forests & wildlife is education of private landowners.  They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.

Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.

The course was taught by Vermont’s foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:

  • Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
  • Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
  • Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
  • Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
  • Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
  • Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
Maple is Vermont's Most Important Hardwood Tree
The Maple is Vermont’s most important tree.  Here Rich Chalmers is showing us his newly built sugar house– made from timbers logged in the surrounding forest.

VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging!  Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs.  If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program.  It’s an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont’s forests in their hands.

Vermont Coverts | Reference Books | Sustainable Forestry
Some of the handouts from Vermont Coverts.  Click here to apply for the next Vermont Coverts Training workshop.  Did I mention the training is FREE?

 

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

About_fsc

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.

Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture.  At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day.  Here are some of the basics on FSC:

What is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent,
non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible
management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the
most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management
worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.

Fsc-chain-custody

L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

Launched
by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard
for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood
furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC
addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological
issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity,
native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for
timber production.

The FSC label provides certification of the
chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the
consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following
businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture
would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be
FSC certified.  It's called the "chain of custody":

  • Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and
    develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and
    social criteria
  • Certified logger and sawyer
  • Certified lumber wholesaler
  • Certified lumber retailer
  • Certified furniture maker
  • Certified furniture retailer

Benefits of FSC Certification
In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process
available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable
forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest
conservation.


Copeland-fsc-harbor-island

Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection is handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple wood from local Vermont trees.

Challenges for FSC As you might expect FSC
certification involves extensive rule-making and auditing that can be
quite expensive (and controversial) to implement. It can add up to 50% to the price of the
end product although the hope is that this cost will decrease as FSC
certification becomes more mainstream. Still many small manufacturers
are unable to assume this cost and are thus not FSC certified.

 

Another
challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation
accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the
Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been
criticized for being too lenient,
particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.

Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture?
Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the
eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible,
green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to
the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC
labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption
and counterfeiting.

In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately.  Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable.  At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests. 

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection.  It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.  And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.