Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


Sustainable Forests

Author Avianca Bouchedid, Written Jan 4, 2013

I recently read a very enlightening book by Jared Diamond titled Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In the book, the author looks at how societies have either thrived or failed over the course of history. One of the attributes of a successful society is the ability to live in harmony with its environment. One of the most famous studies of a society is that collapsed mostly for environmental reasons is that of Easter Island. In Easter Island (known today as Rapa Nui) several tribes of people, originally from Polynesia, thrived for many centuries, and ultimately became famous for building huge stone statues (Moai), only to have their society almost completely collapse when the island ran out of wood due to deforestation.

Fortunately, an equal number of societies, facing similar stress of their forests (Japan is an example), have been able to reverse the trend of deforestation. Internationally, the worlds forests continue to decline as a result of non-sustainable harvesting of trees, and thus there is a valid concern that continued deforestation could be a contributing factor to a future ecological disaster. One of the ways that we can help to turn the tide of deforestation is by making personal choices in our purchases of wood products, such as by purchasing wood products that have been harvested in a sustainable fashion.

One of the most stringent rating standards for wood and paper products is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  The FSC (see link below for more info) is an organization with international reach that is independent of the lumber companies, and provides its FSC stamp only on materials that meet its standards for sustainable harvesting of trees.  To be sure, FSC products are typically more expensive in the short term than other wood products. But for those more interested in preserving our forests, and thereby also helping to keep CO2 levels in check (since forests are one of nature’s most efficient means of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere), it is a great eco-choice to make.

-Tom Davidson, UUCSH Social Action Committee

For more information on the history of Easter Island, please click on the following link:

For more information on the Forest Stewardship Council, please click here:

To purchase FSC-certified paper, click on one of the links below, or better yet, contact your local store and request that they stock FSC-certified paper!

To purchase the book, click here:

(or if you have a Nook, Tom will gladly lend you his e-copy!)