Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Gifts, Part III: Wooden Toys, Jewelry and More

A few weeks ago, I walked up a trail in the Kootenai Valley of northern Idaho, looking for deer. In the mud and snow patches, I saw all the creatures that had also passed this way: deer, elk, moose, grizzly, pine squirrel, turkey, grouse. I wasn't on public land, but rather a privately owned forest.

Increasingly, conservationists realize that these private forests are critically important to a wide variety of wildlife species. It helps, of course, if they're managed sustainably. The Forest Stewardship Council is a third-party certification to ensure that private forests are managed in a way that benefits wildlife, clean water and local communities. FSC is the most rigorous sustainable forest certification, and is endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including The Nature Conservancy.

It's a worldwide program, so it also ensures that your wood product purchase isn't from wood illegally cut in Borneo (as much as 25% of all hard lumber and plywood on the market today is from wood illegally harvested or unsustainably managed). When you buy FSC-certified products, you're helping grizzlies and orangutans, and communities in the Rocky Mountains and Indonesia.

It can admittedly be a challenge, though, finding FSC-certified products. That's why The Nature Conservancy's on-line FSC gift guide is such a handy reference: There are lots of cool wooden products to buy, all guaranteed to be from sustainably harvested forests. The guide tells you what's available and where to buy them.

There' s a diversity of items, like the Natural Pod toy chef kitchen (pictured above). Natural Pod has a variety of home toys--all wood--that receive rave reviews on-line. There are also other toys from Toys R Us, earrings, ornaments and many other items.

We need wood products, and we need well-managed forests. Buying FSC-certified products is a great way to support those forests, and the wildlife and communities that depend on them. --Matt Miller

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