Indigenous peoples and sustainable forestry: the tradition continues

traditional hand drum
© Hand Drum – © SFI, Courtesy of Cooks Ferry Indian Band

Indigenous peoples and forests in North America have long been intertwined. Aboriginal and tribal communities have served as forest stewards for centuries. These communities have relied on forests for material, cultural and spiritual necessities. Examples include using plants for food and medicine and wood for shelter, boats, tools, baskets and ceremonial masks.

Cedar Root Baskets© Cedar Root Baskets - © SFI, Courtesy of Cooks Ferry Indian Band
Today, more than 30 aboriginal and tribal groups across North America manage more than 5.1 million acres (2.0 million hectares) of forest land, certified to the standards of the independent, non-profit Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Requirements for certification reflect a respect for the traditional forestry knowledge of indigenous peoples, their cultures and their rights. Measures include:
  • Protection of natural water bodies, including rivers and lakes, that indigenous communities rely on
  • Conservation of sites that have ecological, historical and cultural significance
  • Support for forestry research that integrates cultural ideals and objectives
  • Training for forestry workers in the latest best practices for sustainability
  • Opportunities to provide input about forest management plans for public lands
Exploring Forest Sustainability with Indigenous Youth © Exploring Forest Sustainability with Indigenous Youth - © SFI, Courtesy of State University of New York’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment
SFI partners with indigenous peoples to fund sustainable forestry programs at the local level through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnership Grants Program. Current initiatives include:

SFI partners with indigenous peoples nationally and internationally through organizations such as the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Indigenous Housing Program. To date, SFI has helped build 119 homes including several for indigenous families. Most recently, SFI helped build a Habitat home for a local indigenous family in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To find out more about sustainable forestry, the important contributions of indigenous peoples and the collaboration between their communities and SFI, visit sfiprogram.org.
Indigenous peoples and sustainable forestry: the tradition continues
Indigenous peoples and forests in North America have long been intertwined. Aboriginal and tribal communities have served as forest stewards for centuries. These communities have relied on forests for material, cultural and spiritual necessities. Examples

Related Content on Treehugger.com