NEW YORK — The non-profit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is facing a stiff challenge from a rival certification system supported by the paper and timber industry, according to The New York Times.

This week lawyers for ForestEthics, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting forests, filed administrative complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service challenging the credibility of the rival label, known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The complaints, which challenge SFI’s nonprofit status, accuse the certification program of lax standards and deceptive marketing intended to obscure the standards and the SFI’s financial ties to the forest industry.

“They’ve essentially created a green certification system to promote their sales,” said Peter Goldman, director of the Washington Forest Law Center in Seattle, the legal firm that filed the complaints on Thursday. “We believe SFI has confused the marketplace.”

Karen Brandt, a spokeswoman for SFI, said that the certification program was sound and that it had met all legal requirements as a nonprofit. “We’re happy to provide them with the facts that support the credibility of our program,” she said, adding that SFI provides consumers with details about its labeling standards at its Web site.

SFI was founded in 1995 by timber and paper companies as an alternative to FSC, which was formed in 1993 by international environmental groups. FSC includes forest industry representatives on its board.

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