A book written by two members of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies which plants the seeds of new forestry policy debate, won the 2005 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for environmental policy and politics.

Ben Cashore, a professor at the environmental school, and Graeme Auld FES ’09 wrote “Governing Through Markets: Forest Certification and the Emergence of Non-State Authority” along with Deanna Newsom of the Rainforest Alliance. The book weighs the pros and cons of public and non-governmental certification programs, analyzing such programs in British Columbia, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Forest certification is a campaign intended to influence timberland owners to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Auld said certification will attract consumers who are willing to pay more for a product certified as sustainable, as is the case with organic foods. A piece of wooden furniture can have the equivalent of the organic sticker on an apple, he said.

“[Certification] is a more effective way to get management practices improved quickly,” Auld said.

Several sets of accreditation standards currently exist. The Forest Stewardship Council, an independent, international organization, created the first guidelines. In response, landowners and companies developed alternative standards, which were usually less rigorous than the FSC’s.

Cashore said forest management must be improved, and governments have failed at this task. He said private attempts could be more successful.

“In political science, we are mostly concerned with the government — because of its power to tell us what to do,” Auld said, “and when the government is not there, we think it is voluntary.”

He said market incentives can be as effective as legislation, if not more.

Cashore said there is insufficient evidence to determine which method is more effective. Instead of drawing final conclusions, the book provides the analytical framework on which to base future theoretical and practical research, he said.

The three authors started working on the project in 1999 at Auburn University, where Cashore was a professor and Newsom and Auld graduate students.

The Harold and Margaret Sprout Award has been granted by the International Studies Association for the last 20 years. According to the Sprout Award Web site, the award is given to an environmental policy book “that makes a contribution to theory and inter-disciplinarity, shows rigor and coherence in research and writing, and offers accessibility and practical relevance.”

The book was published August 2004 by Yale University Press, and was nominated for the award by publisher Jean Black.