Researchers to study forest certification

Linda Benedict  |  9/20/2005 10:51:08 PM

LSU AgCenter, Mississippi State share $102,000 grant

LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University researchers are starting a project to measure how well nonindustrial private forest landowners understand certification programs.

“We want to know about their awareness, understanding and perceptions of certification,” said Richard Vlosky, director of the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center in the LSU AgCenter.

Vlosky and the other researchers, Michael Dunn, an economist with the LSU AgCenter, and Glenn Hughes, an extension professor of forestry at Mississippi State University, also will identify the current and potential future certification systems and products acceptable to major home retail centers.

The results of the survey will provide the background needed for developing a Web site and handbook, Vlosky said.

The researchers also expect to conduct at least six landowner meetings in each state to present information on the choices they may have.

The two-year project will survey the 500 largest home centers in the United States as well as 1,300 private landowners in each state to determine knowledge and willingness to participate in certification.

Large companies buy timber from small private owners, and if their customers want certified wood products, the manufacturer must buy from certified landowners.

The researcher said certification requires that the forest landowner establish sustainable management practices, and not all certifying agencies have the same requirements.

Vlosky said private nonindustrial landowners often are confused about certification programs they’re asked to participate in. “This has implications for landowners,” he said.

Louisiana has about 144,000 private, nonindustrial forest landowners. They own most of the forest land in the state, Vlosky said.

The $102,000 research project is funded by a grant from the Southern Region Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education Program and combines research and extension activities of both institutions to identify the potential for providing certified forest products in Louisiana and Mississippi.

(This article appeared in the summer 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
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