Whither the Vision statement?

In the Collective Action working group, Dave Tenny wrote: “…we may have to take a fresh look at the [Vision] statement. It may be that we start by agreeing to the most important questions we are trying to answer and then provide the best answers we can to the questions. That would be a very useful mapping exercise and could end up either borrowing heavily from the existing draft statement or not. Simplicity will be key – what is the most important objective we are trying to achieve? What are the two or three most important questions we need to answer to help us achieve it? What are the three or so most important answers we can provide to each question. From my experience this type of approach maintains simplicity, fosters collaboration and builds a common language and ownership.”

My response:

Let me share a bit more about the purpose of the Vision statement, the process for shaping and finalizing it, and its intended use post-Summit. The initial purpose was to provide orientation for the Challenges and Solutions the working groups are tackling, which are about clarifying what impedes progress toward the Vision and what actionable solutions would help overcome these hurdles. Even if there are parts of the Vision over which there is disagreement — and we knew there would be — we believed that there would be enough there that most people support that it could serve this function.

Next, we wanted to provide a solid basis— one that’s already supported by many — for generating discussion and getting input prior to the Summit and workshop it during. Here’s where it’s important to get as many joint comments as possible as opposed to dozens of individual ones.

Post-Summit, as is noted in the preface to the Vision statement, the steering committee will determine the process for taking all of the input and arriving at a version for which we’ll solicit the public support of Summit participants. This then provides the basis for numerous subsequent activities, including communications, procurement guidance, collective action, etc.

So obviously the Vision is a keystone of the whole endeavor, and to be very clear, while the goal is to arrive at a version that as many stakeholders as possible can publicly stand behind…

  1. WWF is unlikely to support a Vision that does not take a strong and progressive position on forest conservation and restoration as well as forest management — and I think this is true of many of the green building leaders and other NGOs who organized this meeting;

  2. there has been a strong commitment from the get-go to the proposition that the ambition for forest management should not be a mere affirmation of the status quo, but rather that the goal should be management that increases forest carbon stores and ecological resilience;

  3. we always thought it would be a great challenge to get all participants to sign on, and I’d say if anything it’s becoming more challenging as the list of invitees has grown.

So: if the Collective Action working group or anyone else is able to draft a version of the Vision that maximizes support, wonderful!!! But a core challenge is that we won’t achieve that if certain core principles — for me, 1) and 2) above — are sacrificed. In other words, if there is disagreement on these principles, then it seems like the document will inevitably break one way or another — and gain / lose support accordingly.

If all this holds water, then a logical starting point for our WG could be to see if we can agree collectively on what the core principles should be — and go from there. I think this may be what you mean when you say “what is the most important objective we are trying to achieve? What are the two or three most important questions we need to answer to help us achieve it?”

Dear Jason and others in the Collective Action Working Group:

First, thank you Jason for providing real clarity about your goals for the summit, this working group and feedback on the vision statement. I still lack the clarity and direction I need to successfully contribute to this process. I thought yesterday’s session was helpful, though incomplete; we need more time together. Merrick provided a good starting point with the four questions. I heard some level of agreement in our group that it might be too early for a vision statement, that we have work to do before we could get to a unified vision. I think Jason’s comments really validate that.

Ultimately, I joined this process because there is a strong desire in the architectural/engineering/developer community to utilize more wood in the built environment and reduce embodied carbon in buildings. People are hungry for solutions to address climate change through credible carbon sequestration with a back-story they can trust. The architectural/engineering/developer community have questions. We need to be able to answer them. If we in the forest community can provide the credible story through science and analysis we will thrive and be recognized as the most relevant and proximate tool to address climate change. That’s why the Endowment continues to invest in life cycle analysis, environmental product declaration development, blockchain technology and other tools to tell the carbon story of forests and forest products. With the right tools we can show the spectrum of what forests, forest management and forest products do to help reduce the impacts of climate change. And it will be a spectrum.

Right now, we could add cellulosic nanomaterials to concrete and reduce the CO2 emissions from one of the most CO2 intensive building materials by at least 18 percent. We can treat five tons of concrete with nine pounds of cellulosic nanomaterials to see that kind of reduction in emissions. While it will be important to tell the sustainability story of those nanomaterials, and I truly want those materials to be the most sustainable they can be, I could live without forest certification to produce them. Would FSC’s controlled wood be good enough? Certified sourcing from SFI? Tree Farm? Or is the climate threat so dire that the objective ought to be sustainability of the forest and utilization of these materials to tackle the bigger threat? I know the next response is going to be: But what if harvest produces too much CO2? I think that requires some intellectual honesty. Every acre in the U.S. may not be certified. Every acre may not be sustainable. However, we can calculate the carbon balance of U.S. forests and it’s a pretty remarkable story. When you consider that we have a very similar amount of acres forested today as we did 100 years ago while tripling the population on the U.S., that tells an incredibly important story about carbon balance. And we can talk about volume separately because volume gains on a lot of those acres are truly remarkable. Yes, it’s not the same forest. No, not all the ecosystems are functioning as they did, but there is a positive story to tell about sustainability and the carbon balance. While the national carbon story is good, there are definitely improvements and differences at different scales, and that is important. We need to address those issues and make every improvement where we can and provide the kind of incentives that produce results. But do we start with our map so zoomed in to one spot that we don’t have the view of the full picture?

If it is a spectrum, maybe there is an aspirational outcome we can think about while we address climate issues through one of the most realistic immediate solutions we have available. There are options along the spectrum. Perhaps that’s how we build our map?

There is a lot of work to do and of course I do not have all the answers. This is an impressive, passionate group of people. We can make an impact here. It may not be perfect, but we can put ourselves on that path.


sorry. I noticed when i responded to the email it didn’t fully come through.

Resending so it’s in the message board.

Thanks Jason and everyone for great content and discussion. This might be best for the procurement task group, but the Sustainable Packaging Coalition just released a guide to verifying responsibly sourced fiber. Even though the audience is paper and packaging, these same principles, ideas and concepts apply to wood products as well. You can access the guide at this link - https://vrs.sustainablepackaging.org/

I also want to echo Michael’s comment to not start with our map so zoomed in to one spot that we don’t have the view of the full picture. Jason Grant and I exchanged a few emails about this already, but we all know mass timber is not just sourced from the PNW. There is a major manufacturer in Eastern Canada, a few in the Southeast U.S., and a few in Central/Eastern Europe. Product is shipped globally, and something sourced in Eastern Europe does get constructed in North America. Policy, procurement and forestry needs a global perspective. I’d encourage us to think bigger than just U.S. and Canada.

Jason Metnick
Senior Vice President, Customer Affairs
Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.

Good points, Jason, and great stuff, Michael - a few quick reactions below.

“With the right tools we can show the spectrum of what forests, forest management and forest products do to help reduce the impacts of climate change. And it will be a spectrum.”

Yes, and/but the spectrum should include forest protection and restoration as well as management.

WRT spectrums for forest management, sharing this from a contribution to the Procurement WG:

There are many possible definitions of and classifications for climate-smart wood products. The challenge is magnified by the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of climate-smart forestry. The options for ‘virgin’ wood in this menu are founded on the following core principles:

  1. There is not a binary choice between “climate-smart” and “climate-dumb” forestry; rather, there is a spectrum from more to less climate smart.

  2. Climate-smart forestry reaches above Business As Usual (BAU) forestry that meets the minimum requirements of law. Because the regulatory baseline is uneven – the forest practice rules of some states/provinces are more stringent and climate smarter than others – this means that what is climate smart in one jurisdiction may be less so in another.

  3. Climate-smart forestry improves over BAU on at least two key dimensions:

  4. Reducing emissions and increasing stores of forest carbon (carbon stored in live and dead vegetation and in soils). The latter is known as “additionality.”

  5. Maintaining or building ecological integrity and diversity that are the bases for resistance and resilience as the climate changes.

Forest practices that result in improvements in one dimension generally produce improvements in the other, but this is not always the case.

  1. Recognizing that there is no set definition, the following practices are commonly associated with climate-smart forestry:

  2. Using extended harvest rotations;

  3. Logging selectively under uneven-age management regimes;

  4. When employing even-age management, limiting average harvest sizes and increasing live-tree retention to increase carbon storage and to ensure a diversity of sizes, ages, and native species that make up multiple forest conditions and habitats;

  5. Protecting water quality and aquatic habitats with wider buffers along streams and around wetlands than are required at the regulatory floor;

  6. Restricting the use of chemicals and prohibiting those that are particularly hazardous;

  7. Protecting high conservation value forests including but not limited to old growth, and protecting and restoring habitat for imperiled, threatened and endangered species;

  8. Restoration forestry that manages forests toward a more natural and healthy condition.

“do we start with our map so zoomed in to one spot that we don’t have the view of the full picture?”

Let’s try to look at the full picture, which again, for me, includes what we protect — where we restore — and how we manage so as to increase forest carbon stores and ecological resilience as much as possible while balancing society’s need for forest products. To my knowledge, the increase in carbon stocks in the U.S. that’s occurred in the last 30 or 40 years has not taken place so much because of conscious public policies (with the significant exception of the NW Forest Plan) or private sector efforts, but in good part because forests in the East have been growing back as family farming has died out. Given the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, it seems to me that we need to greatly accelerate both public and private efforts to increase and accelerate a trend that’s already there.

I’m not sure what the forest carbon balance story is in Canada, but it would surprise me if it’s as good as the U.S. If we’re looking at the bigger picture, I hope it will include Canada.

This conversation is bringing up a good topic that I would recommend we cover at the Summit: what does the data (that is accessible to us all today) related to carbon stocks (and sequestration) tell us in different regions of the U.S. and Canada and within the myriad of different forest types and owners/managers. This was a very helpful starting point in last year’s Carbon Sequestration Advisory Group, convened by the Washington State DNR. The final report, shared with the state legislature, is saved here: GetPDF (wa.gov).

Rather than answer all the questions here, I pose the question: what is happening with forest carbon stocks, where and why?

We spent a year looking at the data and deliberating and the report summarizes what is happening in just one state, but it’s a good start!

On March 12, Dave Tenny wrote:

Good Friday afternoon, everyone – having given our meeting earlier this week and yesterday’s exchange with Jason more thought, I have come up with what I hope is a fairly simple approach to strengthening the draft Vision Statement. In the Google doc I lay out a simple (I hope) attempt to combine and harmonize principles in the draft Vision Statement and the CEO Principles using the questions I posed in my earlier email. A number of important initial points:

  1. I intentionally try to keep everything at a high level appropriate for a vision statement and, therefore, have not included some of the more weedy details.
  2. I recommend not trying to develop a discreet definition of the term “climate smart” in the Vision Statement. Rather, I suggest that the vision lay out principles using known terms that collectively would be smart to do to and, therefore, “climate smart.” That prevents spinning our wheels on trying to define something that is relatively new and abstract.
  3. I have attempted to harmonize the Vision Statement and CEO Principles where they overlap.
  4. I have tried to use a consistent voice in the principles that result from combining and harmonizing the Vision Statement and the CEO principles. This required changing sentence structure in some cases.
  5. I am trying not to change text at this point except for harmonization and clarification – this would be a baseline for edits going forward (including mine :blush:)
  6. I am certain I didn’t get it right in the first try. The idea is to start with my feeble attempt and make improving edits until we are comfortable.

If the group thinks this approach is worthwhile, it could help focus and simplify our work going forward.

Today I reply:

Hi Dave,

Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this. I think it’s a good approach.

Given that it seems that a revision (rewrite??) of the Vision statement may be the main focus of our group, we are going to need to make some changes to the facilitation and composition of the WG. Vince is lining up the details of the former — more to come soon. In regard to the latter, I have had two concerns related to balance that have been growing stronger as we’ve added new people in recent weeks:

  1. Up until now, I have been the sole representative of an ENGO on the WG. Believe me, this hasn’t been for lack of trying to recruit others! However, with the turn that things are taking, I am stepping up efforts to expand ENGO participation. In addition, with SFI at the table, I think it’s important for FSC to be represented.

  2. In spite of the fact that the scope of the Summit is N. America, our group has been heavily weighted to the U.S., with only one representative from Canada (Peter). This also needs to be addressed.

To these ends, I’d like to welcome the following additional members:

Cliff Wallis, Alberta Wilderness Association

Brad Kahn, FSC US

Francois Dufresne, FSC Canada

Paige Goff, Domtar

Etienne Belanger, FPAC

There will likely be at least 2-3 more from the ENGO side.

Dave, I moved your “Simple Approach” from the 4 prompts document to the Vision statement document in our shared folder - I pasted it after the current Vision statement. I suggest we use this going forward, as it’s a logical place plus Ara already put in some comments.

I am going to work with others to build off of what you started. One thing we will want to do is emphasize the elements of the existing Vision statement that are critical for our support — some of which are not addressed in what you shared. It will probably take some time for us to put together a cogent response, but for sure it’s a priority.

Finally, I’ll note that we are continuing to communicate by email in spite of my best efforts to move us over to the CLF Forum where our exchanges are visible to all Summit participants. I’d still like to encourage us to use that platform, and accordingly I copied these emails in under the “Whither the Vision statement” topic. However, I am prepared to give up on this if it doesn’t want to happen.

Hi Jason,

A quick note for what it’s worth on the geographic distribution: I am a Canadian (so one more outside of the USA :slight_smile: and more importantly, our perspective with Cities4Forests is primarily international with a focus on tropical forests. (We have 67 global cities in our network with the majority outside the US).

Thanks all!

Hi all,
Thank you Dave for the Fairly Simple Approach to Harmonizing the draft Vision!

I am a visual person, (and already struggling to keep up with emails, forum posts, GoogleDocs, etc.) so in order to better see how the principles of the draft Vision Statement and the CEO Letter got brought together in Dave’s Harmonized Version, I threw all three into a digital whiteboarding tool (called Miro). I’m loath to introduce another digital platform to our group, but in case others find it useful to see the three documents laid out side by side, here it is:

Looking forward to today’s conversation,

University of Pennsylvania
Weitzman School of Design
Department of Landscape Architecture

and RFF is considered an ENGO albeit non-advocacy

In an attempt to stick to the forum for the conversation, I’m hoping someone from the CAWG (perhaps Merrick and Daniel, as facilitators?) can help direct me to the right place for next steps.

But, before I launch into my questions, I apologize for not fully reading all of the threads/emails associated with this first post and can see that I missed the clear opportunity presented by Jason to craft a new (or different vision). That is a change from earlier meeting and phone calls, and I am glad to hear and see that we can move forward with identifying what are the key things we could see in a shared, truly collective, vision.

So, first, I am wondering if we should decide on using the Miro Board (thank you, Nick!) or the Google Doc (thank you, Dave, and thank you, Jason) for building off each others comments, identifying a collective starting place and bringing light to where there might be different paths or different parts of the map (thank you, Scott, for that suggestion)?

Second, I took a first pass through the 3 prompts posed to our group and now that we’ve had two calls to better understand how those prompts could set us up for drawing the map (or revising the vision), I will go back into those and see if I can help narrow in on some of my key thoughts for what is impeding our progress, etc. I really like where some of the comments are already headed! Question: Are we commenting on other comments, building off of questions, or commenting with our own thoughts? I’d love some direction on how best to be helpful in the prompt format.

Third, can we confirm that all participants in our collective action working group are using the on-line forum for discussion? I’m worried that we have many different avenues for moving ideas through. Can we do a quick check on access and use?

And, last, I think we should acknowledge that more than just one ENGO is represented in the collective action working group. I am thrilled there are more people joining the group and more representative of the broad swath of groups and individuals who are committed to finding good solutions for our planet, our resources and our built environment. That is what is needed, in my opinion, to develop a shared path forward for good outcomes that could gain the broad support, I think, we are looking for. Yes, that means it’s harder to come to consensus and we will all have different places where we will need to agree to disagree. Let’s show where these disagreements are and perhaps uncover some of the reasons why and then imagine where we could work together to, eventually, close some of the chasms that make these disagreements become wedges or walls. I for one would like to identify the areas where we can work together, not apart.

Hey Ara, I don’t have answers to all of your questions, but I do think we should try to use this forum instead of email – we can default to the latter if it doesn’t work.

We absolutely need to make sure that everyone on the Working Group is on the forum and getting these messages – we’re on it.

Regarding the process by which the Vision statement will be handled both prior to, during and after the Summit, we’ve tried to be clear and consistent and not send mixed messages, but after a debrief call with David, we realize that more clarity and detail are needed. We need to get with the steering committee and work some things out - stay tuned.

As to the rest, I think we may need to look to David to herd us cats and he is still getting his arms around everything. I know he plans to follow on today’s meeting with an email sharing some initial thoughts and suggestions. We are in good hands. I’ll leave it there for now.

Thank you all for such an engaging summit this week. If nothing else, the depth of passion, expertise, and creativity really shone through.

Coincidentally, Google Earth dropped time-lapse capability yesterday. I zoomed in on SW Washington for a look, and frankly I was shocked - even as someone who has visited and flown over that region for years.

When some of us talk about the need to improve upon the status quo, this is exactly what comes to mind for me.

Brad it was very engaging. I thought you might like to see the FIA fact sheet for Washington State.


This fact sheet uses the 2021 data – so very up to date.

They report that 320,908 acres are treated by cutting (final harvest and thinning) annually. 44,493 forested acres go annually to non-forest while 34,245 acres annually return to forests. Really good information. You can find recent data for any state at this site - https://public.tableau.com/views/FIA_OneClick_V1_2/StateSelection?:showVizHome=no

Have a wonderful weekend.

When using the google earth tool, the closer you zoom in the better you can understand what is happening. Start with a “green” area and watch what happens over time. Then start with “brown” area (most likely a recent harvest site) and watch what happens over time. What you will see is a constantly evolving mosaic of harvest, replanting and regrowth. That is forestry in a nutshell. The story would be even more compelling if the timeframe were longer.

Thanks for this Brad. It’s amazing how satellite images have changed the conversation, laying bare claims of sustainable forest management. Below I’ve used this tool for the area surrounding Fairy Creek, the current site of an eight month blockade. Less than 3% of this forest type remains, and we are still logging it- all certified. Arrests expected soon, logging to start shortly thereafter.
As I engage in this process, I’m interested in what safeguards the green building folks want in place to ensure mass timber contributes to the solution, and not the problem (and the resulting PR nightmare).
Thanks to the organizers for convening the discussion, a difficult task, but well executed.
Fairy Creek animation:

I love my inbox…at the same time I get Brad’s time lapse of SW Washington, I get this link about a ULI webinar today at noon, on how to account for the next 5M people in Cascadia…:flushed:

The Growth Managment Act, (or the lack of its limits?) likely has a lot to do with your time lapse, Brad. Maybe you have a future in GMA politics, Brad!


Susan Jones, FAIA
architect, owner and founder
atelierjones LLC

911 Pine Street
Floor Two
Seattle, WA 98101

It’s great to see the rich discussion, the exchange of information, the respectful debate continuing on in the wake of the Summit. Reading Brad, Pat, Dave and Peter’s posts and linking through to what’s underneath, I’m struck once again by what seems to be a divide in worldviews that causes the same information to be processed differently. I zoomed in on my part of the world – northern California – and saw much of the old-growth redwood forest remaining on private lands in Mendocino and Humboldt counties disappear in the 80s and 90s as Louisiana Pacific and Pacific Lumber logged it out. I saw the brown of the clearcuts green up, but I know the difference between the young, managed forests that are there now and the magnificent and ancient ecosystems they replaced. I also know that these same forests are treated far better under the current owners, Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company – sister companies that bought the LP and PL lands and started managing the timber that remained far more carefully under FSC certification. For me, this is very personal story that contains both tragedy and hope – it has unfolded in the region where I grew up and have spent a good part of my life. I witnessed some of it firsthand. A number of years ago, I even tried to tell it in this video slideshow: (R)evolution in the Redwoods.

Going forward, I’m committed to continuing to look for the both/and in Pat & Dave’s perspectives on the one hand and Brad & Peter’s on the other. Perhaps enough of the right folks in the industry and environmentalists “camps” really can lay down our arms and collaborate so as to make genuine and (relatively) rapid progress toward a Vision where ever-improving forestry really is balanced with the strategic restoration and protection of what needs to be safeguarded for biodiversity and climate. Perhaps the green builders and owners, the LCA experts and academics, etc. can join and support us in this effort. Hope!