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Afforestation. Planting of new forests on lands that historically have not contained forests for at least 50 years. (Source: IPCC)

American Tree Farm System (ATFS). A third-party certification standard focusing on the management practices of private landowners in the United States. To qualify for ATFS certification the landowner must own fewer less 10,000 acres of contiguous forestland and not be affiliated with any forest products manufacturing facility. (Source: ATFS)

Anthropogenic emissions. Emissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, land-use changes, livestock, fertilization, etc. (Source: IPCC)

Auditor (or certifier). An accredited body that is qualified to inspect and verify that a company’s practices conform to relevant certification standards.

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Biodiversity or biological diversity. The variety of living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, as well as the ecological complexes of which they are part. This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. (Source: Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 2, Use of Terms, 2007.)

Bioenergy. Renewable energy derived from biological sources, to be used for heat, electricity, or vehicle fuel. (USDA)

Biofuel. Fuel produced from organic matter of combustible oils produced by plants. Examples of biofuel include alcohol, black liquor from the paper-manufacturing process, wood, and soybean oil. (Source: IPCC)

Biomass. The total mass of living organisms in a given area or volume. (Source: IPCC)

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Canadian Standards Association (CSA). An accredited standards development organization established in 1919, CSA is a non-profit voluntary association with a core focus on the development of a range of standards and product certification. The CSA sustainable forest management program was developed for forest management operations in Canada. (Source: CSA)

Carbon cycle. The term used to describe the exchange of carbon (in various forms, e.g., as carbon dioxide) through the atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and lithosphere. (Source: IPCC, 4th Assessment)

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels (CO2). Emissions from fossil fuels is the amount of CO2 that is released when fossil fuels are burned for generation of heat and power. Fossil fuels are normally burned in power boilers, but can also be fired directly in the process e.g. for paper drying or space heating. (Lime re-burning is also done with fossil fuels in lime kilns, and its contribution to CO2 is accounted for).

Carbon Dioxide-equivalent Emissions (CO2-e). The amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of the production and distribution of the product and expressed in CO2 as a common unit of measure. It determines the impact of a manufacturing operation on climate change.

Carbon Sequestration. The various processes through which carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored in soil, biomass, geological formations and oceans. (Source: IPCC)

Certification. A process whereby an independent auditing body (third party) conducts an inspection and awards a certificate using independently developed standards and objectives. (Source: Metafore)

Certified Forest Management. A measure of whether the raw materials came from a forest that was determined to meet an independent sustainable management standard. A number of different certification programs are in use in the world at this time.

Chain of Custody (CoC). The systematic tracking of wood-based products from their origin in the forest to their end use demonstrated through chronological documentation or paper trail.

Climate change. A change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forces, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. (Source: IPCC)

Climate change. Change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. (Source: UNFCCC)

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Deforestation. The permanent clearing of forest for other uses such as agriculture and urban development.

Deinking. A process which removes most of the ink, filler and other extraneous material from printed and/or unprinted recovered paper. The result is a pulp which can be used, along with varying percentages of wood pulp, in the manufacture of new paper, including printing, writing and office papers as well as tissue.

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Ecosystem. The system of living organisms interacting with each other and their physical environment. The boundaries of what could be called an ecosystem are somewhat arbitrary, depending on the focus of interest or study.

Environmental management system (EMS). A set of processes and practices that enables an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase operational efficiency. (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency, 2007.)

Ethanol. A renewable fuel made from various plant materials, which collectively are called “biomass.” Ethanol contains the same chemical compound (C2H5OH) found in alcoholic beverages.

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F-gases. This term refers to the group of gases hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulphurhexafluoride, which are covered under Kyoto Protocol.

Fiber efficiency. A measure of how much of the raw material (input) ends up in the product (output), usually expressed in a percent.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). An international non-profit certification system that provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry. (Source: FSC)

Freesheet. Paper made from pulp created in a kraft process that has removed the lignin from the pulp. Freesheet has more longevity than groundwood sheets which still contains lignin (such as newspapers).

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Greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases effectively absorb thermal infrared radiation, emitted by the Earth’s surface, by the atmosphere itself due to the same gases, and by clouds. Atmospheric radiation is emitted to all sides, including downward to the Earth’s surface. Thus greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system. (Source: IPCC)

Greenhouse gas (GHG). Those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. Water vapor (H20), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N20), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. (Source: IPCC)

Groundwood. Paper made from pulp created in one of several processes that use virtually the whole tree. In the early days of papermaking, the tree was simply ground up. Now chemical and heating processes are also used in pulping. Groundwood paper retains the lignin from the original trees, which causes the paper to yellow and deteriorate relatively rapidly, faster than freesheet grades.

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High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF). FSC’s term for special places which contain the following criteria: a) forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values; b) forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems; c) forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations; d) forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities and/or critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity. (Source: FSC Canada Glossary)

Illegal logging. Logging in violation of an established legal framework.

Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). The leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1989, to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences.

The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assess the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A network of the national standards institutes of 146 countries. ISO establishes generic standards applicable for use across all industry sectors.

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Kraft process. A chemical pulping process that cooks down the harvested tree to remove lignin, retaining the fibers for papermaking. Freesheet papers are made in a kraft process.

Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. It contains legally binding commitments, in addition to those included in the UNFCCC. Countries included in Annex B of the Protocol (most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and countries with economies in transition) agreed to reduce their anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) by at least 5% below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on February 16th 2005.

Lacy Act (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.). First enacted in 1900 and significantly amended in 1981. The oldest US wildlife protection statute. The Act combats trafficking in “illegal” wildlife, fish or plant. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, effective May 22, 2008, amended the Lacy Act by expanding its protection to a broader range of plants and plant products (Section 8204, Prevention of Illegal Logging Practices). As amended, the Lacy Act now makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken in violation of the laws of a U.S. State or any foreign law that protects plants. (USDA 2009)

Lignin. The “glue” that binds the cells of the tree and creates its structure. Approximately one-third of the tree is lignin.

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Methane (CH4). One of the six greenhouse gases to be mitigated under the Kyoto Protocol. The major component of natural gas and associated with all hydrocarbon fuels, animal husbandry and agriculture.

Methane recovery– methane emissions, e.g. from oil or gas wells, coal beds, peat bogs, gas transmission pipelines, landfills, or anaerobic digesters, may be captured and used as a fuel of for some other economic purpose. (Source: IPCC)

Newsprint– a lightweight paper, made mainly from mechanical wood pulp, engineered to be bright and opaque for the good print contrast needed by newspapers. Newsprint also contains special tensile strength for repeated folding. It does not include printing papers of types generally used for purposes other than newspapers such as mechanical printing papers for catalogs, directories, etc.

Nitrous oxide (N2O)– one of the six types of greenhouse gases to be curbed under the Kyoto Protocol. The main anthropogenic source of nitrous oxide is agriculture (soil and animal manure management), but important contributions also come from sewage treatment, combustion of fossil fuel, and chemical industrial process. Nitrous oxide is also produced naturally from a wide variety of biological sources in soil and water, particularly microbial action in wet tropical forests. (IPCC 2007)

Non-industrial private landowner – is a landowner with less than 10,000 contiguous acres of forestland and is not affiliated with a forest products manufacturing facility. Note that this definition applies to the United States and may vary in other parts of the world. (Source: FCRC)

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Paperboard– one of the two subdivisions of paper. The distinction is not great, but paperboard is heavier in basis weight, thicker, and more rigid than paper. Sheets 12 points (0.012 inch) or more in thickness are classified as paperboard. There are exceptions. For example, blotting papers, felts, and drawing paper in excess of 12 points are classified as paper, while corrugating medium, chipboard, and linerboard less than 12 points are classified as paperboard.

Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC)– is an umbrella organization designed for the mutual recognition of forest certification systems throughout the world. (Source: FCRC)

Protected Areas – an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means. (Source: World Conservation Union (IUCN), World Commission on Protected Areas website,, accessed September 2007.

Pulp – fibrous material prepared from wood, cotton, grasses, etc., by chemical or mechanical processes for use in making paper or cellulose products.

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Recovered content– is a measure of how much recycled material is in the paper. This includes both pre- and post-consumer recycled content. It also includes agricultural residues (left-over material from an existing agricultural land use such as wheat straw) that may also be used as fiber input.

Recycled fiber– cellulose fiber reclaimed from waste material and reused, sometimes with a minor portion of virgin material, to produce new paper.

Reforestation– planting forests on lands that have previously contained forests but that have been converted to some other use. (IPCC 2007)

Special Places-used generically to mean areas in the forest landscape that have unique qualities and need special attention and treatment, including sensitive ecosystems.

Supply chain– the different steps (from tree harvesting to product distribution) that wood and paper-based products go through, from harvest to end product.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®) Program– is a forest certification program designed to document sustainable forest management on industrial lands in Canada and the United States.

Systems-based assessments, such as those established under the International Standards Organization (ISO), inspect and certify a company’s management systems, which allow a company to monitor its environmental management and impact. (Source: FCRC)

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Threatened species-a group of three categories: critically endangered species, endangered species, and vulnerable species. Endangered species are considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild while vulnerable species are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. (Source: World Conservation Union (IUCN), Glossary of Biodiversity Terms, IUCN/WCMC, 2007.)

Traceability -the ability to track wood between two subsequent points of the supply chain.

Uncoated paper– paper without a clay (often slick) coating.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)– the Convention was adopted on May 9th, 1992 in New York and signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro by more than 150 countries and the European Community. Its ultimate objective is the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. (IPCC 2007)

Waste energy– is derived from the following sources; mass burning of garbage; conversion of garbage to refuse-derived fuel pellets for eventual burning; collection of methane gas from landfills; and burning or anaerobic digestion of wastes. (Energy Information Administration: Renewable and Alternative Fuels)

Wood energy– is derived from the following sources: roundwood, used primarily in the industrial and electric sectors; woodfuel, used predominantly in the residential and commercial sectors; and wood byproducts and wood waste, which are usually used in the industrial sector. (Energy Information Administration: Renewable and Alternative Fuels)

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Allocationpartitioning the input or output flows of a process or a product system between the product system under study and one or more other product systems (ISO 2006)

Characterization  methoda method for quantifying the impact of environmental interventions with respect to a particular impact category (Guinee et al. 2002)

Background  system/processmodeled processes influenced by measures taken in the foreground system (Tillman 2000); system or process for which secondary data are used (Guinee et al. 2002)

Elementary flowmaterial or energy entering the system being studied that has been drawn from the environment without previous human transformation, or material or energy leaving the system being studied that is released into the environment without subsequent human transformation (ISO 2006)

Foreground system/processprocess or the collection of processes on which measures may be taken concerning their selection or mode of operation as a result of decisions based on the study (Tillman 2000); a system or process for which site-specific data are collected (Guinee et al. 2002)

Functionperformance characteristic of the product system studied (ISO 2006)

Functional unitquantified performance of a product system for use as a reference unit (ISO 2006)

Impact categoryclass representing environmental issues of concern to which life cycle inventory analysis results may be assigned (ISO 2006)

Intermediate flowproduct, material or energy flow occurring between unit processes of the product system being studied (ISO 2006)

Life cycleconsecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation from natural resources to final disposal (ISO 2006)

Life cycle assessment (LCA)compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle (ISO 2006)

Life cycle inventory analysis (LCI)phase of life cycle assessment involving the compilation and quantification of inputs and outputs for a product throughout its life cycle (ISO 2006)

Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)phase of life cycle assessment aimed at understanding and evaluating the magnitude and significance of the potential environmental impacts for a product system throughout the life cycle of the product (ISO 2006)

Life cycle interpretationphase of life cycle assessment in which the findings of either the inventory analysis or the impact assessment, or both, are evaluated in relation to the defined goal and scope in order  to reach conclusions and recommendations (ISO 2006)

Normalizationcalculating the magnitude of category indicator results relative to reference information (ISO 2006)

Product systemcollection of unit processes with elementary and product flows, performing one or more defined functions, and which models the life cycle of a product (ISO 2006)

Reference flowmeasure of the outputs from processes in a given product system required to fulfill the function expressed by the functional unit (ISO 2006)

System boundaryset of criteria specifying which unit processes are part of a product system (ISO 2006)

Unit processsmallest element considered in the life cycle inventory analysis for which input and output data are quantified (ISO 2006)

Weightingconverting and possibly aggregating indicator results across impact categories using numerical factors based on value-choices(ISO 2006)

  1. Guinee, J. B., Marieke Goree, R. Heijungs, G. Huppes, and René Kleijn. 2002. Handbook on Life Cycle Assessment – Operational Guide to the ISO Standards. Edited by J. B. Guinee, Eco-Efficiency in Industry and Science. Leiden: Centre of Environmental Science, Leiden University.
  2. ISO. 2006. Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines. In ISO Standard ; 14044. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.
  3. Tillman, Anne-Marie. 2000. Significance of decision-making for LCA methodology. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 20 (1):113-123.