Cooks Mills Farms recently achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification (FSC C018800) through the Eastern Ontario Model Forest’s (EOMF) Forest Certification Program.

The 22.2 ha family farm near Welland, Ont., is owned and operated by Paul and Denice Robertson. EOMF says this farm is the first certified woodlands in the Niagara Peninsula.

FSC® is an international, membership-based, non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of forests.

“Our interests in and respect for the Peninsula’s unique hardwood forests has motivated us since we first purchased the property,” said Paul Robertson. “Forest certification under the EOMF Program provides us with an assurance that we are actively part of the much larger process of insuring all stages from growing to consuming forest products are sustainable and based on best management practices.”

Cooks Mills Farms is comprised of three separate farms located east of Welland. The Robertsons purchased the first farm in 1998. Over the next 19 years they added two more properties and were kept very busy with the preparation of a Farm Stewardship Plan, stand improvement harvests, tree planting, removal of Emerald Ash Borer infected ash trees, trail improvements, control of invasive species and wildlife habitat improvements. The Robertsons are also registered farmers, apiarists, certified native tree growers and members of the Ontario Woodlot Association.

The Farm Stewardship Plan for the properties equally lists forest products, wildlife habitat, recreational and financial benefits and control of invasive species as their main objectives. This balance of management objectives is strongly supported by forest certification.

The addition of Cooks Mills Farms adds 22.2 hectares to the growing list of private woodlots now certified under the EOMF Forest Certification Program. Jim Hendry, forest certification coordinator for the EOMF views forest certification as an important tool to implement sustainable forest management. “Independent international standards are accountable and ensure credible forest management activities for the woodlot owner and forest product consumers. Managing our forests to a world class standard while providing FSC® certified wood to local mills is both good for the environment and the local economy. The certification of Cooks Mills Farms will hopefully lead to a greater awareness of the importance of forests and a network of certified forests throughout the Niagara Peninsula.”

EOMF Forest Certification Program now includes 120 private woodlot owners, 14 community forests, two private commercial forest owners and six maple syrup producers totaling over 83,000 hectares or 205,000 acres.

Read more coverage of the Robertsons and FSC certification here.