Is it better for the environment to use wood over steel or concrete? On one level yes, especially if we consider the energy costs of producing various materials.The cement industry alone is responsible for emitting almost five million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Unfortunately, much of the wood harvested in Manitoba is logged unsustainably, and Canada still lacks a comprehensive plan to protect its boreal forest.

How can you confirm if a two by four comes from habitat of endangered species or from areas that should be protected? One way to ensure that you are using ecologically sensitive materials is to look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on the wood products you purchase.

The FSC is an international non-profit organization that monitors and certifies ecologically and socially responsible wood products. Over 100 million acres in 80 countries around the world are certified as FSC. In order to be certified, producers need to ensure that the wood they harvest comes from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. Some conditions of FSC wood products include:

  • Prohibit conversion of forests or any other natural habitat
  • Respect of international workers rights
  • Prohibition of use of hazardous chemicals
  • Respect of Human Rights with particular attention to indigenous peoples
  • No corruption – follow all applicable laws
  • Identification and appropriate management of areas that need special protection (e.g. cultural or sacred sites, habitat of endangered animals or plants)

To find out more, see the Forest Stewardship Council web site.

Other organizations working with FSC include Greenpeace and Forest Ethics.