Forest Certifications – Sustainable Choices for Wood Veneers

FSC-certifiedEnvironmental consciousness has reached a point where people and international organizations desire to monitor the production and harvesting of wood products, including the source of raw materials for plywood and wood veneer. One way to do this is to use certified wood products.

As more forests become certified, there will be a natural transition to buy wood products with the appropriate labeling. Wood veneer does not go bad, and some very unusual logs are kept for special projects for many years. Some of these veneers were cut before the certifying bodies existed. These veneers are called legacy woods; they are a valuable resource and may actually increase in value.

Some countries, like Switzerland and Norway, already practiced sustainability and good forest management years before certification existed. As well, many timbers are harvested sensibly, but the individual landowners or farmers cannot afford the cost of certification. A wood that does not have a certificate does not mean that is was harvested unsustainably.

However, a consumer or project manager may want to have a certificate of sustainability. The following 3 primary certifying bodies represent 12% of the world’s total forest area under certification.

One widely used forest certification program is managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international non-profit organization established in 1993. As of September 2012, members of the FSC include more than 850 organizational members in 107 countries throughout the world with over 24,000 individual certificate holders.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, another well-known program is the PEFC [Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification]. Its 35 worldwide independent national forest certification systems represent more than 593 million acres of certified forests. Covering about two-thirds of the globally certified forest area, it is the largest forest certification system in the world.

Finally, there is the SFI, Sustainable Forestry Initiative. One of the world’s largest single forest certification standards, at the end of 2011, it controlled more than 181 million acres (730,000 km2) in the United States and Canada.

Mutual recognition of certifying bodies in the chain of custody has not yet happened. However, FSC and PEFC use the same forest management standard in countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway.

Wood Veneer and the Environment

FSC-certifiedBuying wood veneer and other wood products with the FSC, SFI or PEFC label ensures that you are buying products from companies that are leading edge in sustainability. During FSC evaluations for land certification, a team of scientists, foresters and ecologists review the company’s methods on harvesting logs and raw materials. The Forest Stewardship Council looks into and stipulates the following:

  • The company’s harvesting rate should not exceed the forest’s capacity to naturally regrow harvested trees.
  • The company should maintain natural forest conditions required to sustain wildlife.
  • Wood veneer, parquets and other wood products should not be made from endangered species of trees.

Why Buy Certified Wood Veneer?

With more consumers becoming aware of the benefits of buying certified wood products, there is also a growing business trend to support this cause. Unlike non-certified wood, the source of certified wood veneer can be traced to the time when the logs were harvested and to which particular forests they came from.

Buying certified wood products also ensures that you get quality and genuine products, especially if you are selecting exotic wood. However, take note that not all types of wood veneer sheets are available with certification. You can, however, consult your wood supplier to know what type of wood with certifications can replace your non-certified wood choice.

With roughly around 2 percent of rainforest woods in the world going to wood veneer and lumber industries, it’s wise to choose products that come from trusted sources.

Herzog Veneers is certified to FSC, SFI and PEFC standards.


Sabrina Parisette-HerzogSabrina Parisette-Herzog is a 5th generation wood veneer specialist. Owner and President of Herzog Veneers, Inc., and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she and her husband Sam started the company in High Point, NC in 1982.
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