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How Master Loggers are Making a Difference
Benefits of Northeast Master Logger Certification:
Achieving Northeast Master Logger Certification validates the efforts made by your harvesting company to ensure long-term sustainability of New England forests. By ensuring that your harvesting practices are sustainable you will be helping to secure jobs, access new business opportunities and protect forest products-based economies into the future.
- Sustainable New England Forests
- Enhance Your Companies Reputation
- Access to new markets
- Promotional opportunities
- Access to Networking, Professional Development and On-going Safety Training
- Gain Access to FSC® Chain of Custody Certificate
- Marketing tool directed at landowners by giving them assurance of harvesting to an accepted and recognized standards
- Access to Forest Products Workers Compensation Trust
- Discounted Workers Compensation Rates because ML is a Certified Logging Professional organization
- Access to the Direct Link Loan Program
Step One: The company contacts the MLC Administrator for an application. When the application is returned with the first installment the applicant is sent a complete readiness packet outlining expectations and standards. Then company schedules a 2 hour phone interview:
- Performance standards are explained
- The commitment to superior management practice is defined
- 3 past and current harvest sites are identified
- 3 professional references are obtained
- Company has opportunity for some self-reporting/evaluation
2016 Master Loggers
Process explained- in detail:
Process explained- in detail:
What is the Process to Become Master Logger Certified?
Step One – Application and Interview
The natural resource harvesting company, be it a sole proprietorship or a contractor with employees, makes the decision to seek Master Logger Certification (MLC). The company contacts the MLC Administrator who then sends out an application. Once the initial deposit is recieved with the application a complete readiness packet outlining expectations and standards is sent to the applicant. Then company schedules a 1 hour phone interview during which the performance standards are detailed, the commitment to superior management practice is defined, 3 past and current harvest sites are identified, and 3 professional references are obtained. The interviewer documents the interview and it becomes Part I of the MLC application packet submitted to the Certifying Board. Part I of the MLC application includes: (1) the written interview, (2) a company profile, (3) documentation of reference checks, and (4) documentation of a background check of the company’s compliance with business and natural resource laws. In order to maintain confidentiality and impartiality, candidate companies are assigned a number code which is used as an identifier in all application materials. The interview report (Part I) is sent to the applicant to approve and the final payment is submitted by the applicant.
Step Two – Field Audit
A MLC accredited field verifier makes an appointment with the company to visit 3 coded harvest sites in order to rate the consistency of harvest practices and ensure that the company meets MLC performance standards. Each field verifier completes his or her own consensus report based upon individual site worksheets. This consensus report becomes Part II of the MLC application packet. Part II of the MLC application includes: (1) the report of accredited field verifier #1, (2) the report of accredited field verifier #2, and (3) the report of a third accredited field verifier is present if requested for further clarification.
Step Three – Report Approval
The applicant is sent a copy of Part II of the MLC application to review for accuracy. If the company wishes to challenge any conclusion, their comments must be in submitted in writing. These comments / challenges will be included in the application packet that goes to the Certifying Board. The company then signs a Code of Ethics and a release form that indicates a desire to move the application forward to the Certifying Board. Part III of the MLC application includes:
(1) comments/corrections submitted by the company,
(2) a signed code of ethics, and
(3) a signed release form permitting the submission of the application to the Certifying Board.
Step Four – Company information sent to Certification Board
Each company’s application is sent to each member of the MLC Certifying Board. This Certifying Board is a multi-stakeholder board of people from Maine and from outside the state. Each has expertise in one or more aspects of natural resource management and rural economic development and has no conflicting interests.
Step Five – Certification Board meets and reviews application
The Certifying Board meeting is held and each application is thoroughly reviewed. If issues are unresolved on a particular goal area, a fourth field verifier can be sent out to review harvest sites before a vote for acceptance is taken. All applications must have a unanimous vote of acceptance from the Certifying Board. Ninety percent of the Certifying Board must be present to create a quorum.
Step Six – Announcement
Newly certified MLC companies are announced at a public reception. During the two year period that follows, the accredited field verifiers conduct random audit sampling of MLC company harvest sites to ensure continued adherence to MLC standards. An 800# is listed on all MLC harvest signage to encourage public comment.
This stewardship program operates under the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands. The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNF) is a 501(c)3 organization formed by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine in 2003 to administer the Northeast Master Logger Certification program with the broader goal of “enhancing the health of working forest ecosystems through exceptional accountability” throughout the Northern Forest region.
The Trust supports exemplary forest professionals, landowners, and wood product manufacturing companies who are committed to responsible and accountable management of forest ecosystems by providing low-cost access to forest certification and building the region’s capacity to produce third party certified forest products and ecosystem services.
Who? Maine was the first place in the world with a point-of-harvest Master Logger Certification program, offering third party independent certification of logging companies’ harvesting practices. The certification system is built around performance standard that has been cross-referenced to all of the world’s major green certification systems, and has been adopted by several other North American states and Canadian provinces. In 2007 the Maine MLC program became the Northeast Master Logger Certification Program (NEMLC) to include loggers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. While companies range in size from large contractors to small, independent sole proprietors, together they represent all areas of the northeast.
Why? To compete successfully in a global marketplace, we believe that Northeastern harvesting companies and other forest professionals must demonstrate that they set a world standard for economic AND environmental performance. To do this, a profession’s essential practices must be defined and each company must be certified to an exemplary standard. The performance standard must be based on performance in the forest and through business practices. Once that performance is recognized, harvesting companies can move forward as an equal partner with others to ensure economic viability for all rural communities.
When? Rather than be swept along by the changes occurring in the global marketplace, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine decided in 2000 to reinvent their profession and hold it to a world-leading standard of excellence. Their success has attracted national and international attention. In 2002, this pioneering effort in designing and implementing the NEMLC program was unanimously adopted as the national model for logger certification by the 27 state associations in the American Loggers Council.
What? The content of NEMLC is based on a common vision for communities and forest resources of the northeast. The
nine goals guide loggers in their work: Document Harvest Planning, Protect Water Quality, Maintain Soil Productivity,
Sustain Forest Ecosystems, Manage Forest Aesthetics, Ensure Workplace Safety, Demonstrate Continuous Improvement, Ensure Business Viability and Uphold Certificate Integrity. These are detailed more with harvest responsibilities and explicit performance standards under each goal. Field verifiers visit actual harvest sites to determine whether candidates for NEMLC are meeting and exceeding the required performance standard. Their findings are submitted to an independent board that makes the final decision. To remain, certified, each company must be recertified after two years and every 4 years if without incident. Random audits are performed between recertifications, encouraging the upgrading of skills within the company, continuous improvement, and an attitude of partnership with other forest professionals and their associations. In 2005, the MLC program was recognized by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program with the first ever SmartLogging certificate. This certificate represents an independent, global recognition of the integrity of the Master Logger standard. If a Master Logger wishes to continue to obtain certification for Chain of Custody they may apply to do so.
Where? As of 2011, the New England states, New York,Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, 3 Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) and Japan have Master Logger programs based on this model.
Why do we need Certification?
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certify that wood products industries are managing their lands in a manner that will not jeopardize the availability of forest resources for future generations. The International Standardization Organization (ISO 14001) certifies production practices, ensuring that mills are operated in a safe and efficient manner. State-specific logger training programs certify the technical and safety skills of individual loggers working in wood harvest operations in the Northern Forest region.
While these initiatives have led to improvements, one element of the wood products industry remains largely unmonitored. Wood harvesting companies, ranging from sole proprietors to large-scale businesses with multiple employees, have perhaps the greatest direct impact on the health of the forest ecosystem. Their operations supply raw material for wood products industries, but they also have the potential to conserve or compromise water and soil quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and forest aesthetics.
Recognizing the need to certify natural resource harvesting companies, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine began to develop the Master Logger Certification (MLC) Program in January 2000. A draft MLC document outlining the certification requirements was written and widely distributed to wood harvesters, forest products industry representatives, and policy makers during the spring and summer of 2000. Their feedback was incorporated into the document, and the MLC program was prepared for the piloting process. The first cohort of MLC companies began the certification process in January 2001 and were certified on July 31, 2001. Subsequently, in 2005, an independent non-profit organization – the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands – took over the administration of the MLC program, creating the conditions for MLC’s status as a third-party certification system. Shortly thereafter, the MLC program in Maine combined efforts with the Southern New England MLC program to create the NEMLC program, serving harvesting companies in six Northeastern states (ME, NH, MA, CT, RI, VT and NY). NEMLC continues to collaborate with MLC programs in Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI), Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Read more about TCNF’s certifications
Who is on the Certification Board?
The NEMLC Certification Board represents the multiple interests in and values of the Northeastern Forest. Members have been state representatives, retired and current loggers, retired forestry practioners, academics, business consultants, and representatives of environmental, social justice, and regional development organizations. Members have expertise in one or more areas of natural resource management and rural economic development. To be eligible, NEMLC Certification Board members must not stand to receive any personal or corporate financial gain from the forest products industry or their participation on the NEMLC Certification Board.
The functions of the NEMLC Certification Board are:
Reviewing company applications and reports
Discussing applications and reports, coming to consensus decisions, and directing NEMLC staff as to their decisions or need for further information.
Guiding the NEMLC program in continuous improvement and contributing to program policies and procedures.
Current NEMLC Certification Board Members
Professor Emeritus of Forestry
Old Town, ME
Instructor of Forestry
Natural Sciences Unit Chair
Faculty Assembly Chair
University of Maine at Fort Kent
Fort Kent, ME
Anil Raj Kizha
Assistant Professor Forest Operations, University of Maine
What are the different types of certification?
The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNF) is engaged in several activities designed to enhance the credibility of the Northeast Master Logger Certification Program and create additional market opportunities for participants in the program. Descriptions of these activities are provided below.
SmartLogging – For Loggers
The Maine Master Logger Certification Program (MLC), the first third-party logger certification program in the country, has earned the first SmartLogging certification and will be audited annually by the Rainforest Alliance to ensure continued compliance with a rigorous set of environmental and social standards. SmartLogging is intended to complement Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and recognize responsible harvesting practices. Loggers that meet the Maine Master Logger Certification standards will also meet the SmartLogging requirements.
Maine MLC pursued SmartLogging certification as a way to increase overall credibility of the program by subjecting TCNF policies and procedures to a credible third party review. This certificate also establishes the Maine Master Logger program in the global marketplace by demonstrating practices that meet an international standard in an increasingly international system of commerce. Rainforest Alliance and the SmartWood program bring this global recognition to the Maine Master Logger Certification Program and ensure that as similar harvest certification programs are created around the US there is an established precedent for a high standard of timber harvesting practices.
The Trust’s Controlled Wood Policy – FSC Forest Management Group Certification: For Landowners
TCNF administers an FSC-certified group of family forest landowners throughout Maine. Under this group arrangement, natural resource professionals can inexpensively gain access to FSC certification for their landowner clients. TCNF is the administrative body that holds the FSC certificate and has overall responsibility for compliance with the FSC Northeast Regional Standard. The involvement of a Master Logger in the harvest of member properties will help ensure compliance with the FSC Standard and provide a consistency of practice across all properties.
The TCNF certified group has been formed to provide low-cost access to FSC certification for landowners, consulting foresters, and Master Loggers throughout the state of Maine. The FSC Standard is an internationally recognized framework of forest management that acknowledges a commitment to high environmental standards, social responsibility, and economic sustainability. The certified group is appropriate for properties of all sizes. The primary benefit of FSC certification at this time is an assurance to landowners that forest management meets a credible and independent high standard. In the short term, the financial benefits from premiums found in a certified marketplace should be considered a secondary outcome if achieved at all. In fact, increased market share is the most likely economic benefit. However, FSC-certified markets are increasing throughout the region and entry into the pool at this time will allow landowners and the Master Loggers harvesting the wood to take advantage of markets as they develop.
FSC Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood Group Certification: For Wood Processors or Handlers
TCNF serves as an administrator for a group Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Controlled Wood Chain of Custody certification. FSC Chain of Custody certification allows Master Logger companies to purchase FSC-certified material (stumpage), harvest the wood, and haul to FSC Chain of Custody certified mills or brokers. Chain of Custody certification requires little change from current Master Logger practices, particularly in Maine where a legal requirement for the use of “Trip Tickets” is in effect. TCNF addresses the administrative and annual reporting requirements established by the FSC and audited annually by SmartWood. Under this program, the Master Logger Company is required to contact TCNF to verify the FSC status of the forest where you will be purchasing wood. At this time, only companies with 15 or fewer employees may participate in this group (companies with 16-25 employees may participate if you have a turnover of less than $1,000,000 in revenue). Enrollment in the program is required through TCNF and consists of agreeing to and signing an acknowledgement form and consenting to the possibility of an annual site visit by SmartWood. The MLC company must also maintain documentation on the volume of purchases and sales made of FSC certified material. TCNF will assist any larger MLC company that wishes to pursue FSC certification by providing all the documentation necessary to complete this process. FSC Controlled Wood certification allows Master Logger companies to represent the material harvested and sold as meeting the Controlled Wood definition established by the FSC. Controlled Wood is needed by FSC-certified Chain of Custody processors that are selling products that consist of a mix of FSC-certified and non-certified material. For practical purposes, generally all wood harvested under the MLC program will meet this Controlled Wood definition. The FSC standard requires that non-certified materials exclude the following broad categories of wood:
a) wood harvested from forest areas where traditional or civil rights are violated
b) wood harvested from non FSC-certified forest areas having high conservation values which are threatened
c) wood harvested from genetically modified (GM) trees
d) illegally harvested wood
e) natural forest that has been converted to plantations or non-forest use
TCNF has conducted a risk assessment of the Northeast against the categories listed above. Since the categories are defined globally, TCNF has determined that Master Logger harvested wood in the Northeast meets this requirement. SmartWood has audited and approved this claim. MLC companies wishing to use this designation will be issued a certificate number by TCNF and will be required to maintain the same type of documentation as required for FSC Chain of Custody certification described above.
Toll-free hotline for comments on Master Loggers’ work.
The Northeast Master Logger Certification program maintains this hotline to receive feedback regarding NEMLC companies. The hotline has been used to relay praise for NEMLC companies’ work as well as concerns about NEMLC company practices. The hotline may be used anonymously. NEMLC staff follow up on each hotline phone call within 48 hours and keep records of each hotline call and the follow up activities for five years.