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The relationship between the Forest Stewardship Council and Rivanna is as old as our company itself. FSC is the reason that we became a wood products company, and we owe much of our success over the past 18 years to our FSC Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification.
FSC: Our Foundation
When I was in the idea stage for the new company, I began by meeting with the Charlottesville office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the world's leading nonsectarian refugee relief organizations. The best jobs for recently-arrived, non-English speaking refugees, according to the IRC, were in assembly or light manufacturing. Both areas presented a host of supply chain issues, particularly back in 2001, when words like “transparency,” “accountability,” and “sustainability” were barely on the radar.
As I narrowed down the list of options for a business with a small footprint, wood products manufacturing emerged as a strong contender. With a ready supply of renewable raw materials and four forestry certification schemes from which to choose, the forest products industry seemed like a solid fit. After much consideration, Rivanna chose FSC. We received our CoC certification in January 2002, months before we shipped our first product, which was a corporate gift made from FSC-certified cherry. On our brand new website, we stated:
We choose to be certified by the FSC because the FSC standard is most closely aligned with our company's priorities and values. In particular, we appreciate that the FSC standard addresses not only environmental issues, but issues related to indigenous rights, community well-being, and socio-economic sustainability.
While our website has changed many times, this statement has remained unchanged. Today, we have a better appreciation of the importance of Climate Justice and the real work ahead for all of us in making it a reality. FSC certification is critical to Climate Justice: it strengthens communities, promotes health and well-being, and creates more equitable economies because, among things, it gives a voice to those most harmed by deforestation and illegal logging.
FSC: Our Market Maker
We were thrilled when we received our CoC certification. Almost everyone else, however, was skeptical. We were routinely told that FSC would not make it: that FSC was a largely unknown brand; that FSC would never have the muscle to cut through market confusion and apathy to build the brand awareness needed to thrive; that certification was too expensive and arduous; and, of course, that FSC was overkill for a fledgling business like ours. Our response was simple and unapologetic: we chose the gold standard. Eighteen years later, we have never looked back. Happy #FSCFriday everyone! By supporting our work, you are supporting responsible forest management.