Title page for ETD etd-03072008-104040

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Perera, Polwattage Kushil
URN etd-03072008-104040
Title Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners and US Home Center Retailersí Attitudes and Perceptions of Forest Certification
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Renewable Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard P. Vlosky Committee Chair
Cornelis F. de Hoop Committee Member
Michael A. Dunn Committee Member
  • forest certification
  • NIPF landowners
  • home centers
Date of Defense 2008-02-29
Availability unrestricted
The concept of forest certification, a relatively recent development in forestry, is based on the use of market-based incentives to encourage sustainable forest management practices. Since the majority of forests in US South are privately owned, certifying forests owned by non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners is an important issue. From the demand perspective of certification, pressure from non-governmental environmental organizations and consumer awareness has prompted major wood products retailers to state preferences for certified wood products. In the US, wood product demand in the retail home centers sector is second only to the home building industry. In addition, home center retailers have been shown to be a primary driver of forest and wood products certification. In order to ascertain NIPF landowner and leading home center retailer perceptions of forest certification, two mail surveys were conducted. We surveyed 1,200 randomly selected NIPF landowners each in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the top 500 home retail centers in the United States.

Results of the landowner survey indicate that a significant proportion of respondents believe certification could benefit NIPF landowners. Results suggest that many of the negative or neutral attitudes NIPFs hold towards certification are partially due to a lack of information and knowledge on the subject. Many respondents are skeptical of the publicís willingness to support certification. However, they believe that certification can contribute to improving the forestry profession and forest management. It was also evident that the cost of certification will continue to be a main certification issue with over three-quarters of respondents being unwilling to pay anything for certification.

Results from the home center study frame certification-related issues from the perspective of wood products retailers looking for the best way to market their products. Only a few leading wood products retailer respondents are currently participating in certification. Product quality, fair prices and supply issues are regarded as main concerns rather than safeguarding against environmental retaliation in order to be successful. Results indicate that, in general, price premiums for certified products are rare. However, niche markets exist that offer higher prices for certified products. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certification schemes are most preferred and accepted by retailer respondents. None of the respondent companies experienced any unexpected costs due to certification.

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