The specific practices of a sustainable forestry project vary from forest to forest, depending on the specific environment and the exact resources to be extracted from the forest. The first step is to survey the land that's part of the sustainable forestry project, creating not just an inventory of the timber, but also of the various wildlife species present and whether any of them are endangered, along with other environmental issues such as watersheds, proximity to urban areas and recreational use by humans.
Next, forest managers determine what can be harvested from the forest, and in what amounts. Their goal is to harvest timber in a way that doesn't destroy the overall health of the forest. This can be done by pruning timber instead of felling entire trees, cutting down older trees to encourage diversity and growth, and thinning tree populations in some areas to promote healthier growth. It's also important to plant new trees, taking care to plant species that will both provide the type of timber wanted and fit into the forest ecosystem.
Other sustainable forestry practices include controlled burning to encourage forest regeneration, continually monitoring the health of the forest, and working with local communities to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage related to the forest.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any sustainable forestry plan is training. A plan is only as good as the forestry workers who implement it, so not only must they be trained to carry out the sustainable practices identified in the plan, it's important that they understand the benefits of sustainable forestry.
Sustainable forestry can go beyond the forest, extending to sustainable development practices. Sustainable development means building in ways that have minimal harmful impact on the environment. Factors include the location of the development, the methods used to clear land, and the types of wood used in the development.
The best way to ensure sustainable forestry works is through third party certification. We'll explain how that works on the next page.