|New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that DEC has achieved 11 consecutive years of dual forest certification for more than 780,000 acres of State Forests under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®-C002027) forest management standards. DEC is committed to managing public lands in a scientifically, environmentally, socially, and economically responsible manner to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.
"DEC's Division of Lands and Forests continues to lead by example through their commitment to forest certification and maintaining the health, productivity, and overall integrity of New York's State Forests," Commissioner Seggos said. "For more than a decade, products derived from wood harvested off State Forests have had the distinction of being labeled 'certified.' This assures consumers that the raw material came from forests managed in a way that protects water quality, respects indigenous people's rights, provides public recreation and wildlife habitat, and complies with all state, national, and international laws."
To become certified, DEC's forest management program was evaluated against the rigorous criteria established by FSC and SFI, two internationally recognized standards. State Forests were first certified under both standards in 2008 after an independent assessment by NSF-International Strategic Registrations and Scientific Certification Systems. Third-party audits are conducted on specific portions of the standards each year and a full assessment is conducted every fifth year to maintain the certifications.
"Regular evaluation of our forest management practices allows us to adapt our strategies to changing environmental and social conditions to better manage the public lands of New York," said State Forester Robert Davies. "With the support of Commissioner Seggos and the dedication of our professional forestry staff, DEC remains committed to continual improvement of our forest management program."
During the most recent audit, the third-party certification bodies noted that the Division of Lands and Forests exceled in a number of areas, including:
- Establishing and maintaining recreational opportunities for multi-user access and educational kiosks in recreational areas.
- Incorporating aesthetic conditions, such as leaving a buffer, into management decisions where visual impacts are a concern.
- Completing comprehensive reviews of rare species and ecosystems in an area prior to conducting management activities.
DEC is part of a growing number of public, industrial, and private forest land owners throughout the United States and the world whose forests are certified as sustainably managed. Additional information on the FSC and SFI can be found on their websites.
The results of this year's audits are available on DEC's public website.