Mississippi endorses a more inclusive approach to forest certification approach

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed legislation Wednesday specifying that rating systems used in green building projects funded by the state government "shall not exclude certificate credits for forest products certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or the American Tree Farm System."

The move was hailed by the Sustainable Forestry Initiaitive (SFI).

"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) currently recognizes only the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating tool,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. “As such, LEED as currently worded does not meet the criteria of Mississippi's new law. For more than a decade, the overwhelming majority of responsibly managed certified forests have not been eligible for the LEED forest certification credits, undermining communities, conservation and working forests."

More than 100 elected officials, including 14 governors and 89 members of Congress, have already urged the USGBC to support all credible forest certification standards, including the SFI Standard. 

"Mississippi has 3.5 million acres certified to the SFI or ATFS standards. LEED's exclusion of SFI and ATFS is unfounded and unfair to thousands of Mississippians whose livelihoods depend on the forest products sector," said J. Tedrick Ratcliff Jr., executive VP of Mississippi Forestry Association. "We applaud Representative Reynolds (D-Water Valley) for initiating this effort and the state's decision to take a stand for the use of local sustainably harvested wood products in state green building projects."

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