Types of wood from climate-smart forestry operations

This procurement option aims to more directly tie wood products back to their forests of origin in order to support CSF . It requires moving beyond business-as-usual procurement and may or may not involve certification (Option 3). As such, this option relies on levels of traceability and transparency beyond typical procurement.

Forest practices vary widely across North America, so it is always best practice to work with local expertise to identify CSF practitioners and their partners in the supply chain. However, when considering broad categories of sourcing, the following are some examples and considerations for higher-probability sources of CSW, subject to due diligence and verification:

  • Non-Industrial Timber Producers: These might include US federal, indigenous or tribal, non-profit organizations and land trusts, and family forest owners. Canadian provincial and US state managed lands often fall into this general category but in some cases can also be managed for industrial wood production objectives. Government- and tribally-managed lands have a traceability and transparency advantage in that these provisions are generally already required.
  • Ecological Forestry: Forests where restoration is occurring to enhance ecological resilience and integrity by definition offer many climate-smart benefits. Organizations and companies exist across North America that practice and promote this type of forestry every day. They have established track records of trustworthy results and are generally eager to accommodate the transparency and traceability needs of the project team.
  • Above-BAU Regulations: Some forests are governed by environmental or management regulations exceeding business-as-usual (BAU). One example are the many millions of acres in the US that are governed by Habitat Conservation Plans, which entail a set of required commitments to protect federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act. HCPs commonly require additional conservation measures and management practices that are aligned with climate-smart forestry outcomes. Forests managed under an HCP are also highly likely to have inherent documentation requirements which are complementary to project traceability and transparency objectives.
  • Above-BAU Practices: Forests consistently managed using practices that exceed BAU regimes are likely to enhance climate, community, and biodiversity outcomes. This could include forests that are third-party certified carbon projects and offer carbon offset credits tied to increased carbon storage over a regulatory baseline. It could also include forests that have a positive Carbon Stock Change Factor.

Why this is Climate Smart

The description above provides examples of indicators of potential climate-smart attributes that align with the CSWG’s definition of CSF, corresponding landowner types and implications for the level of traceability/transparency required to make credible claims. None of these indicators represents a stand-alone guarantee of climate-smartness. The inclusion of indicators like these in any procurement policies or specifications should include additional information and regional context. Examples may include describing why certain types of landowners are believed to produce improved climate[1], community, or biodiversity outcomes that exceed business-as-usual, or which forest management and conservation practices employed by timber producers are considered (e.g., extended harvest rotations, increased green tree retention, expanded riparian and wetland buffers, habitat enhancements for fish and wildlife, etc.).

Traceability & Transparency

Ideally, the exercise of this option will involve data at the forest management unit (FMU) level, categorized as Level 3 transparency and traceability disclosure. However, projects will need to work with their supply chain partners to ascertain the implications of Level 3 disclosure for availability and price. At minimum, this option must incorporate traceability and transparency to the wood supply area (Level 2 ). In this case, one could make a claim that wood procurement supports CSF operations located in the supply area if logs originating from those operations are procured by a mill over a given time period (e.g., the previous year) in volumes sufficient to “cover” the volume purchased. Such an approach does not rely on log segregation at the primary manufacturing facility, but it has the significant disadvantage of breaking the link between the wood and the specific CSF operations that the project team wishes to support.

Pros / Cons of Buying Wood from Climate Smart Forests


  • Direct Impact: With proper transparency and traceability, this pathway provides a very direct method for supporting CSF practices. With full supply chain mapping and source forest disclosure, project teams should be able to point to specific positive outcomes that their projects have supported within specific forests.
  • Market Transformation: By asking supply chains for the transparency and traceability needed for this option, project teams can transform the forest products industry in ways that differentiate forest practices, reward CSF, and make transparency requests more accessible for future projects.


  • Complexity and Barriers to Entry: This pathway is among the most complicated options for supporting CSW, and will usually require a significant time commitment from the project team.
  • Early Commitment Usually Required: This pathway usually requires commitments early in the planning of a project because identifying climate smart forestry operations and tracing wood products to their source can be a difficult and time-consuming effort, and can require added lead times to identify sources of climate-smart logs before harvest and steer them into the supply chain for the project.

[1] See discussion of Stock Change Factors in Appendix for an example of one method that can be used to character climate impacts of timber supply areas.