I discussed Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), a private organization working on the ground with local communities to encourage greater sustainability and economic recovery from their nearby forests. This week, I'd like to look at an organization working on the ground with logging and wood companies and local communities to encourage sustainable forestry on an industrial scale.

The Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) is a non-profit, educational institution dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests through sustainable forestry. They seek input from all sources: industry, government, science, academia, and conservation and are partnered with respected organizations such as the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and more.

The TFF was formed in 1990 as a result of a Smithsonian Institution workshop that brought together leaders of industry, science, and conservation to address the growing concern for the protection of tropical forests. The focus of the TFF is to promote tropical forest conservation and management through education and training. The key component of their program is "Reduced-Impact Logging" (RIL). Going beyond academic study and theory, TFF provides practical and realistic solutions and direct training. The RIL training goes far beyond logging to cover equipment use, maintenance, safety, inventory systems, mapping, watershed management, road building, and more.

Over 5,000 people from communities, timber companies, universities, government, and even journalism internationally have completed the RIL Field Training Program. TFF also assists in developing chain-of-custody programs to ensure the legality of log purchases.

The TFF is on the ground in South America, Africa and Asia, teaching both large and small companies and communities how to maximize value recovery and minimize collateral damage to their commercial forests. TFF's training and coaching often leads concession managers to seek certification for their forest management practices. In addition to improving logging practices, TFF is engaged in research to increase the commercial value of tropical forests that have already been logged once.

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.'")