Rainforest_Alliance_logo.jpgLast week I asked Richard Donovan some general questions about  Rainforest Alliance, and this week, let's get to a key question for many:

Q: What services can you offer the flooring industry?

A: Everything we do is focused on a mission-conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.

In terms of services or activities, first, our Rainforest Alliance Certification Unit-aka RA-Cert-offers third-party verification and certification services covering legality (at the forest and mill levels), chain of custody, sustainable forest management, and other services specifically tailored to the needs of the organizations we work with.

Second, our SmartSource service can provide buyers of all types with guidance on how to improve their sourcing.

Third, we have a TREES program that is working with large and small companies to set up sustainable forest management operations and processing businesses around the globe in critical landscapes (e.g. Amazon and Congo Basins, Central America and Mexico)-we are open to more collaborations of this type.

And lastly we have a very strong communications team-and we would like to work with collaborators to educate consumers about sustainability, the practical aspects of sustainability in the flooring industry, etc.  

Q: Where do you see your role in the wood industry in the future?

A:  First, we are focused on creating tools that will support/recognize the sustainability achievements of SME (small and medium sized) enterprises around the globe. SMEs are often the real innovators and we think the wood industry is full of smart, creative, cost-conscious and performance-oriented folks who know how to get things done. This is a sector that tends to be very direct in its communications and actions. We need to build on that-as we pride ourselves on trying to be the same way.

Second, we are now focused on ensuring sustainable forest management on commercial and non-commercial forestlands around the globe, in protected areas, in community and indigenous forests, and in all forest biomes (tropical, temperate and boreal).

Third, we believe that the example the wood industry is setting-through certification, legality initiatives, stewardship, etc.-are examples for other sectors and we need to get the other key sectors-agriculture, mining, infrastructure, tourism-on board. Rainforest Alliance is already doing this with a very active agriculture program, and we have also done some pioneering work in tourism.

My thanks to Richard for the time, and I wish Rainforest Alliance another 25 years of great success!

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")