Exposed: FSC-certified clear-cutting of Massachusetts public forests, USA

A new website launched recently reveals the destruction of Massachusetts public forests by clear-cutting, even though they have been FSC certified. Clearcutting MA Public Lands shows a series of aerial photographs taken by a local activist.

The more than half million acres of Massachusetts Public Forests, including the Savoy Forest, were certified by Scientific Certification Systems Inc, in August 2004. SCS evidently had difficulty in massaging the state public bodies through the certification process: of the 17 ‘conditions’ which SCS had attached to the certificate between 2002, when assessment began, and 2004, only two conditions had been ‘closed out’ by the time the certificate was issued. SCS’s Public Summary Report of the certificate reveals that, at the time of certificaton, the various public bodies responsible for managing forestlands had no landscape level forest management plan, very few actual forest management plans, no means of identifying or delimiting areas of High Conservation Value Forest, had no credible calculations of annual allowable harvest, and had failed to identify, designate, or map representative ecological reserves.


However, in a pattern that has been identified with numerous other SCS certifications, the largest of the Mass. forest managers, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), responsible for 285,000 acres of forest, managed to just scrape past SCS’s ‘pass-mark’ score of 80/100: for eight of the nine applicable FSC Principles, DEM scored only 85 or less. Contravening FSC’s current rules – which require compliance with all Principles, SCS awarded the certificate on the basis only that the state public forest land agencies “while having observed deficiencies, are on balance substantively compliant with each of the relevant FSC principles” (emphasis added).

The full public summary report is available here: forest_mass.pdf


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