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The role of loggers has evolved to parallel movement in sustainable forestry and even certification, and logger certification has raised the level of professionalism and credibility among loggers.
Modern forestry and wood production are evolving together. Technology provides opportunity to use more of each tree and reduce waste. Moreover, wood harvests are being balanced with other forest uses.
Don Peterson, a member of the American Loggers Council and the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association, agrees that the forest products industry has changed dramatically especially in the past decade. He contends professional loggers need training to keep pace with companies that are certifying and managing their lands as sustainable.
In September, 1999, the American Loggers Council took a hard look at the future of the national logging profession. About 17 months later, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine hosted a summit to ask: "Will we be logging in 2001?" and as loggers in Maine reassessed their position, Peterson says loggers in Wisconsin did the same. They created the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association.
Participants in the summit took to heart the words of Lloyd Irland, a forest economist and certifier for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council. He told them, "Be good at what you do. Have a way to prove it. And organize."
Within a month of the summit, Maine drafted a Master Logging certification program with support from the American Loggers Council. This program creates a higher performance bar for the profession.
The voluntary program assesses 12 areas of performance and sets standards that are coordinated with similar programs across the United States and Canada. Among them, standards to certify that harvest practices enhance water quality, honor forest ecosystems, support soil productivity, assure future timber resources and manage forest aesthetics.
The program bolsters but does not replace existing state logger training programs. Wisconsin is one of four states with an American Logger's Council approved template for Master Logger certification.