With another comment today on the GAGOP Resolution from the Executive Director of the Southeastern Wood Producers Association, I did some additional research on LEED certification regarding timber, and saw this newspiece from AthensOnline.
As the story states, one doesn’t have to use LEED-certified wood to receive LEED certification. What it doesn’t state is that there are different levels of LEED certification and, for that reason, every point counts. LEED uses the international FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification for wood. This certification actively and openly discourages pine plantations.
For the free marketeers, the problems are legion. The FSC agreement addresses labor relations, the community interests in private property, and even how much timberland can be clearcut at a time. The limit, unless there are extenuating market demands, is 40 acres. The exception allows for 80 acres. For people with hundreds or thousands of acres of pines, this is simply not acceptable. It also negates the advantage most of Georgia has in the speed with which pine trees reach maturity by forcing harvesting over an extended period of time.
Market price fluctuates greatly and this is the main determinate of when timber owners will cut and sell trees. Weather is also a factor. Rainy weather over a period of time will makes acres of timber inaccessible to log trucks. Only land with paved roads nearby can then by harvested.
FSC also prefers naturally mixed woodlands; making mass planting of trees, harvesting of pine straw, and efficient harvesting of trees impossible or very nearly impossible. Pine trees are a crop. When planted the intention is to harvest those trees in around 18 to 22 years (or more for different categories of pine timber).
Finally, there is the mention of an offset for “local” resources. There are points for using local resources, but the amount is tiny and it is not a requirement. If one is building a home in Atlanta, then all of Georgia would be considered “local” but so would all of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina. Large portions of Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana are also “local” as is anything within a 500 mile radius.
For those of us who have been surrounded by acres of pines throughout our lifetimes then the ramifications are obvious. The more hoops growers have to jump through, the less efficient the production and harvest and the greater costs.