L.L. Johnson Lumber and Johnson's Workbench wants you to feel good about your lumber purchase. It is important to us that we do our best to buy from mills that practice sustainable forestry management. It only makes sense to manage our forest in a way that guarantees sustainable growth for the future.

Give us a call. We'd be happy to talk further with you about how we can work with you on certified sustainable lumber materials. 800-292-5937.



It started out slowly but has quickly snowballed into a very popular subject - GREEN. Green Building, global warming, carbon footprints and recycling are important issues facing everyone. We constantly hear about the harm that is being done to our planet and what we as a country, state, company, family and/or individual can (or are willing to) do to decrease the negative impact our lives have on the planet.

GREEN also relates to the hardwood lumber industry. But first a little background information on the origin of hardwood lumber. Michigan mills get most of their logs from private landowners with lots that typically range in size from 10-100 acres. These woodlands (for the most part) are managed for a cyclical harvest which involves harvesting mature marketable trees every 10 years or so. The opening of the canopy improves growing conditions for younger trees so that they too become marketable timber years down the road. The income from these harvests, are an important incentive for the landowners to retain these properties as woodlots, versus clearing for other less green alternatives.


If all timberland were managed for a cyclical harvest, the need for lumber certification would not be the issue it is today. Unfortunately woodland owners face pressures to sell or convert their land for economic gain beyond what they may be getting for their cyclical harvest and recreational value.

We often see woodlots in the Midwest that get cleared for land development, or in the case of the overseas Rainforests, cut and burn practices clear forest so that food crops or cattle grazing can be established. This permanent loss of forests is a large contributor to many of the negative effects we are experiencing on our planet. To combat the loss of our forests, Green Programs have been established to help substantiate sustainable management in an ecological manner.

We, here at LL Johnson Lumber, are seeing a growing interest from customers who want to know what FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is, how it works, and what costs and availability issues are associated with it.
There are reasons for this increase which vary from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification requirements to individuals who want to do the right thing for the environment. There are different avenues to pursue in order to achieve a positive environmental result in lumber and the many other items we purchase.

Lets use a car analogy - If you were about to purchase a new car you might have to decide between a hybrid and a high mpg non hybrid, if the only factor was environmental you would probably go with the hybrid, but there are many other factors to consider including availability, cost, reliability, ergonomics, and resale value of the vehicle.

After weighing all these factors you might conclude that the best I can do for me and the environment is a non hybrid that is within my budget gets 40mpg and has a high resale value. The decision is one that clearly has good environmental consequences (perhaps not as good as the hybrid) and based on what is available today a good compromise.


When buying lumber most consumers, if given a choice, would prefer to order boards that they know came from trees harvested from sustainable forest because it makes sense and it is the right thing to do.
However, the decision is often complicated by certification requirements, availability, higher costs and uncertainty. For these reasons most consumers decide to go with more readily available and cheaper, non-certified lumber. As more FSC certified wood becomes available and associated costs more closely match non-certified costs, the decision to buy certified will surely become more popular.

So what is a person to do if his heart is in the right place but feels currently there are too many hurdles to overcome to make certified wood a profitable choice? Johnson Lumber wants you to feel good about your lumber purchase. It is important to us that we do our best to buy from mills that practice sustainable forestry management. It only makes sense to manage our forest in a way that guarantees sustainable growth forever and in most cases here in the Midwest that is what is being done.


Imported woods are more complicated because we are dealing with hundreds of countries with varied procurement practices. The reputable mills we are associated with promote the forest as a source of livelihoodfor the indigenous people giving them incentive to manage their forest as a source of sustainable economy.

We often hear misinformation blaming the forest industry for deforestation when in reality clear cutting is being done for land development or agricultural practices. A forest set aside for forestry and lumber production is a protected forest, from which only selected trees are harvested, on a rotational basis, using specialized equipment that minimizes impact to the forest ecosystem.

For consumers that must have certified lumber to satisfy LEED requirements there is only one program available. LEED recognizes FSC which is an international organization that “supports forestry practices that are environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically viable.

FSC certification is obtained through a third party certifier such as Smartwood or the Rainforest Alliance. The certification process involves yearly audits, training employees, establishing procedures to keep certified wood separate from non-certified stock and a proper paperwork trail identifying all certified stock (For further information go to www.fscus.org ).

LL Johnson Lumber is FSC COC certified by Smartwood. An alternative to FSC is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative). It is based on the premise that responsible environmental behavior and sound business decisions can co-exist (visit www.sfiprogram.org to learn more ).


Material ordered through FSC certified vendors include a COC (Chain of Custody) #, COC is the path taken by raw materials from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution. This system allows consumers to verify the sources of the wood being used to make the products they are buying.

Lumber certification is a growing and important topic that should continue to evolve into a more economically viable choice. Through partnership with mills that practice sustainable forestry both certified (FSC) and non-certified, Johnson Lumber will continue seeking ways that lessen the impact our industry has on the planet.



FSC - (FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL) certification is overseen by independent advisory bodies. It is a global program with regional standards specific to certain geographies around the world and requires participants to report on their operations in a variety of performance areas.

SFI - (SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY INITIATIVE) is a North America program overseen by independent advisory bodies and require participants to report on their opera-tions in a variety of performance areas.

ATFS - (AMERICAN TREE FARM SYSTEM) has a group certification program that allows groups of small private land owners to become certified to a third-party audited standard, and then allows the sale of that wood as a “certified” product.

CSA - (CANADIAN STANDARDS ASSOCIATION) offers forest certification in North America, and the Rainforest Alliance offers a SmartWood certification program.

PEFC - (PROGRAMME FOR THE ENDORSEMENT OF FOREST CERTIFICATION SCHEMES) is a global umbrella organization for the assessment and recognition of national forest certification systems, which has recognized SFI, ATFS, and CSA systems in North America.

SMART WOOD sets the international gold standard for credibility in auditing environmentally and socially responsible forestry.

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