Healthy Forest Act - New Jersey Audubon and a Clarification

Some have suggested as a result of the editorial focused on the Healthy Forest Act that was posted in the Star-Ledger (http://bit.ly/1949A92) and Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/17jurmx) on 7August 2013 that New Jersey Audubon stands to gain financially as a result of passage of the Act. These suggestions are not true or well founded, and are attempts at weakening support for the Act and the efforts that many have made to restore New Jersey’s forests to a healthy condition. forested wetland -highpoint

New Jersey Audubon holds a Forest Stewardship Council Group Certificate, and has not generated profit while helping partners meet the FSC standards on their land under our certificate. New Jersey Audubon is a nonprofit and therefore all the money that the organization raises is used to support the implementation of conservation projects and programs. New Jersey Audubon staff raised the money to pay for FSC related audits and certification costs, covering New Jersey Audubon property and the state’s Sparta Wildlife Management Area. The funding sources come from competitive grant programs and private individuals who believe in and financially support the work that we do.

Regarding certification, New Jersey Audubon does not have a monopoly on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in NJ. Anyone or any group can go through the process to obtain a FSC Group Certificate or FSC Certification. The Nature Conservancy is a FSC Group Certificate holder, but they have chosen not to engage in FSC Certification in NJ, at least to date. The State of NJ could choose to obtain FSC Certification directly and pay for their own audits, as has been done by the State of Pennsylvania. Most state entities that are FSC certified have their own certificate. We don’t expect that the DEP would look to NJ Audubon or other NGOs to handle the certification process for state lands. Even if the state wanted to partner on FSC Certification, we at New Jersey Audubon don’t envision taking on FSC Certification at the scale of all state forest lands. The inclusion of the Sparta Wildlife Management Area in NJ Audubon’s group certificate was done as a demonstration project in order to provide the state with some experience and understanding of the FSC process.

New Jersey Audubon continues to support the Healthy Forest Act and efforts to improve the condition of New Jersey forests. We hold this position because it is the right and necessary thing to do to protect and conserve wildlife habitat, air quality, water quality, mitigate against climate change, as well as and in addition to providing numerous recreation opportunities for the citizens of the state. New Jersey Audubon’s mission is to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among New Jersey's citizens; protect New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals, and plants, especially endangered and threatened species; and to promote the preservation of New Jersey's valuable natural habitats.