Why I Do What I Do
Stacy Brown, forest certification coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation
Stacy Brown’s floors, cabinets, and fireplace mantel—all made from wood—are the perfect reminders of why she works with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
So too are the sugar maples and white pines outside her back door. Brown’s job focuses on encouraging and recognizing excellence in forest management through Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This program creates a market distinction for forest products, signified by an FSC stamp that may adorn a 2-by-4 piece of wood, a pencil, or a ream of paper. Not unlike the USDA’s certified organic seal, this stamp tells the consumer that a particular product was made following the tenets of sustainable stewardship. Brown works with landowners, forest managers, and manufacturers through site visits, workshops, and local meetings to promote FSC certification.
Q. Why did you choose to work in forest certification?
A. The need for wood products is ever-present. I built my own house with my husband and was amazed at our own desire for wood products. The character, flow, and warmth of wood are unparalleled. Along with a need and desire for wood, there is a need for responsible land practices to generate it.
Q.Where have you seen the biggest impact from your work with the FSC?
A. Each year more FSC products are available in stores. For a new market sector, the growth has been phenomenal: In 2003 alone, 803 new companies started producing certified products, bringing the total global number to 2,853 companies. Like organic agriculture, the market niche for these products is just beginning, and the draw toward FSC products will motivate more forest owners and managers to be FSC-certified.
Q.How has living in Vermont influenced your view of forest certification?
A. Every day I see the impact the forest-product industry has in my community. There is a forest outside my back door that has 80-year-old trees. My neighbor sells firewood, and the local mill’s success affects the people around me. When I see all these forestry products produced and used, I think of each as an opportunity for people to choose sustainable stewardship.