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ALC Executive Vice President
Daniel J. Dructor
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P.O. Box 966
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American Master Logger Certification Program: Preparing for Opportunity

by Ted Wright, Executive Director, Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands and Jennifer Hartsig, Coordinator, American Master Logger Certification© Program

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”
–Roman philosopher Seneca

Demand for certified wood products is increasing, both in the United States as well as in Europe and other global markets.  As consumers become more discerning in their desire for products that are sustainably sourced, manufacturers are increasing their goals for wood that meets those requirements.  In many cases, there is a lack of certified wood to meet these demands.  How do Certified© Master Loggers fit into this market equation?


First of all, let’s take a look at a few examples of highly recognizable businesses driving this demand.  Furniture maker IKEA, the world’s largest single consumer of wood, has established a goal to use 100% “more sustainable sources, defined as recycled or FSC® certified wood, by 2020” .  Likewise, fast food giant McDonalds plans on “procuring 100 percent of its packaging from certified or recycled sources by 2020, with a global preference for FSC-certified sources” . Similar goals are being set across the globe, raising demand for energy products such as certified wood pellets, according to a recently released report focusing on Western European demands , and focusing on US producers such as Enviva and Drax Biomass.  


Meeting the increased demand for certified wood will only be possible if the supply is available, and recent estimates show only 12.9% of forestland is certified.  A recent journal article, Forest Certification Perspectives in the Wood Products Supply Chain in Virginia, U.S.A. concludes “additional supply would need to come by way of smaller forests, diverse logging contractors, and manufacturers of all kinds. Growth likely will remain slow or non-existent unless these value chain participants clearly see a favorable balance between costs and benefits.”  


The recent research report, Value Assessment of Certified Logger Programs, released in late November 2018 by the Wood Supply Research Institute  (WSRI) shows that mills may be the stakeholder segment where the disconnect between demand for certified wood and the supply is greatest.  In this study, 100% of interviewed mill representatives were aware of Master Logger Certification© programs, yet 38% saw “no significant positive effect”.  In fact, of all stakeholder groups, mills had the highest degree of negative overall value perception of the Master Logger Certification program.


How can our American Loggers Council endorsed Master Logger programs work together to address this disconnect?  The WSRI report recommends three focal areas: 1. Increase the scale of Certified© Master Logger companies around the country.  In other words, in order to have a greater impact on the market, the number of businesses available needs to be greater; 2. Capitalize on the high-quality work of Master Logger Certified© businesses. This means making the case to producers who are demanding certified wood that Master Logger Certified© companies are a key to the supply they need; and 3. more effectively promote the program as a whole, in order to “get bigger, get better, and get more widely known”.  


The Michigan Master Logger Certification© program is seeing increased enrollment as a direct response to the opening of the Arauco Particleboard Plant in Grayling and growing demand for certified suppliers. According to a Northern Logger article from September 2018 Randy Keen, Arauco procurement manager, says “All Arauco mills are FSC certified and we give preference to Master Loggers. That’s very important to us. The Master Logger ranks are growing in Northern Lower Michigan. I think that’s in part because of Arauco putting out the word that we will give preference in terms of quota to Master Loggers,” said Keen. The Michigan Master Logger Certification© program has responded to this demand and looks forward to Arauco’s future success. 


There are also businesses that prefer using/procuring Certified© Master Logger wood because they feel it’s the right thing to do. They want to recognize and reward those companies that go the extra mile to improve the perception of logging internally within the industry and to those externally, like the other landowners in their wood basket and to the end-consumers of their products. We will be highlighting these businesses in the future.


As partners under the umbrella of ALC endorsed Master Logger Certification© programs, we have an obligation to try to meet these recommendations for growth and greater recognition. Professional loggers don’t need luck, they need to be prepared for opportunity. With increasing demand at home and from the European market for certified wood, there would appear to be an incentive for loggers and suppliers to work together to make sure certified logging contractors are in place. 


iv Lowe, L.; Brogan, S.; McClure, N.; Nowak, J.; Oates, B.; Preston, D.; Tucker, W. Forest certification programs: Status and recommendations in the south—A report of the southern group of state foresters. 2011.
v Munsel, J.; Ares, A.; Barrett, S.; Bond, B.; Gagnon, J. Forest Certification Perspectives in the Wood Products Supply Chain in Virginia, U.S.A. 2017,
vi Mullaney, G. on behalf of the Wood Supply Reseach Institute (2018). Value Assessment of Certified Logger Programs. (Report No. 85245F). Old Town, ME:  James W. Sewell Company.
vii Townsend, E. (2018, November).  North America’s New Largest Particle Board Mill Promises to Grow Michigan’s Residuals Market. The Northern Logger & Timber Processor, 34-39.