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A quarter-century of forest certification with Dave Bubser

A winter forest, seen across a wetland, is partially obscured by fog.
Lorie Shaull
A winter forest, seen across a wetland, is partially obscured by fog near McGregor, Minnesota on Feb. 5, 2024.

Dave Bubser explains the forest certification process: how forests become certified, the sustainability standards involved and how they help consumers buy responsibly. The "Local Forest History" series is produced by Mark Jacobs.

Each month on the KAXE Morning Show, we talk about forest history. This month, we met Dave Bubser.

Dave started Cambium Consulting, a small consulting firm, in 2020. Nearly all the work is focused on the sustainability of forests, forest values and forest outputs.

The draw of forest certification

Dave started out as a field forester in Idaho. His first exposure to forest certification was as a member of a very diverse certification standards committee in the Rocky Mountain region. He was attracted to the inclusion of diverse perspectives, the focus on ecologically based forestry and the market-based approach to forest certification, including a “chain of custody” tracking system.

Forest certification empowers consumers to make decisions regarding forest products based on both the quality of the product and the quality of the forest management, rewarding responsible forestry in the marketplace.

How does certification work?

Dave then worked for nearly two decades with certification bodies, primarily covering forests in the U.S. and Canada. Public lands in Minnesota were among the early adopters of certification, beginning in the late 1990s. Minnesota currently has the most acres of certified forest in the United States. Dave noted that certification is voluntary, it’s not easy to meet the comprehensive standards required to qualify and each entity is annually audited for compliance with the standards.

Over the years, Dave has noted continuing improvements in forest management as documented by audit reports. These changes include a very clear shift toward more ecologically-based forest management, improvements in forest planning and monitoring, improved collaboration with stakeholders (including with Native American tribes), identifying and protecting sensitive areas and areas that have elevated ecological value such as old growth, greater scrutiny and care around safety standards and the application of pesticides and improved adherence to best management practices that are designed to protect water quality and reduce soil erosion.

What about you?

Are you interested in forest certification for your own land, or will you look for certifications to guide your purchasing habits? Email us.

Listen to Dave’s interview above.

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