FSC® is an international, membership-based, non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of forests. FSC® has developed a global certification system for forests and forest products, ensuring the existence of forest areas through responsible forest management. Use of the FSC® logo is intended to signify that the products come from well managed forest, giving consumers the option of supporting responsible forestry.
The addition of Cooks Mills Farms adds 22.2 hectares to the growing list of private woodlots now certified under the EOMF Forest Certification Program and represents the first certified woodlands in the Niagara Peninsula. Cooks Mills Farms is comprised of three separate farms located east of Welland, Ontario. The Robertson's purchased the first farm in 1998. Over the past 19 years they have added two more properties and were kept very busy with the preparation of a Farm Stewardship Plan, stand improvement harvests, tree planting, removal of Emerald Ash Borer infected ash trees, trail improvements, control of invasive species, wildlife habitat improvements, to name but a few! The Robertson's are also registered farmers, apiarists, certified native tree growers and Ontario Woodlot Association member.
"Our interests in and respect for the Peninsula's unique hardwood forests has motivated us since we first purchased the property", said Paul Robertson, "Forest Certification under the EOMF Program provides us with an assurance that we are actively part of the much larger process of insuring all stages from growing to consuming forest products are sustainable and based on best management practices." The Farm Stewardship Plan for the properties equally lists forest products, wildlife habitat, recreational and financial benefits and control of invasive species as their main objectives. This balance of management objectives is strongly supported by forest certification.
Jim Hendry, Forest Certification Coordinator for the EOMF views forest certification as an important tool to implement sustainable forest management. "Independent international standards are accountable and ensure credible forest management activities for the woodlot owner and forest product consumers. Managing our forests to a world class standard while providing FSC® certified wood to local mills is both good for the environment and the local economy. The certification of Cooks Mills Farms will hopefully lead to a greater awareness of the importance of forests and a network of certified forests throughout the Niagara Peninsula," says Jim Hendry.
EOMF Forest Certification Program now includes 120 private woodlot owners, 14 community forests, 2 private commercial forest owners and 6 maple syrup producers totaling over 83,000 hectares or 205,000 acres.