Sustainable Forestry Initiative introduces new standards

Aspens in fall foliage
via Tom Haxby, Michigan State Forest certified to SFI – near Kalkaska, Michigan

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the organization that certifies forests covering more than a quarter billion acres/100 million hectares stretching from Canada's boreal forest to the U.S. South, has announced its new Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) 2015-2019 Standards and Rules. The new standards incorporate the latest scientific information, input gathered from 12 public workshops held across the United States and Canada, and comments solicited from approximately 10,000 stakeholders.

"The future of our forests depends on credible, transparent and auditable standards to enable sustainable resource use for today and generations to come. Our work starts with the SFI standards, but SFI is so much more – it's a community that stands together for the health and future of forests," said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. "SFI plays a central role in strengthening the vital link between healthy forests, responsible purchasing and sustainable communities."

A key goal of SFI’s new standards is to support better decision making all along the supply chain – from corporations sourcing forest products, to landowners developing forest management plans, to consumers making purchase choices.

The new SFI 2015-2019 Standards and Rules build on SFI’s work over the past 20 years through a strengthened commitment to sustainability.

Specific highlights include:

  • Species of concern: SFI Program Participants must address conservation of known sites with viable occurrences of significant species of concern.

  • Water quality: SFI mandates the use of best management practices that are comprehensive and go well beyond legal requirements to protect water quality. SFI Program Participants must implement protection measures to protect all water bodies including rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

  • Fiber sourcing: The new SFI 2015-2019 Fiber Sourcing Standard distinguishes SFI from all other forest certification programs in that it requires the responsible procurement of fiber from non-certified lands.

  • Forestry research, science and technology: Unique to the SFI Standard is the requirement that SFI Program Participants invest in forestry research, science and technology.

  • Forest conversion: SFI prohibits conversion of forest cover type to another forest cover type except in justified circumstances, such as dealing with disease.

  • Illegal logging and controversial sources: All non-certified forest content must either be from certified sourcing, recycled content or from non-controversial sources.

  • Chemicals: SFI requires the minimization of chemical use and the use of only government approved chemicals. Pesticides listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants are banned and World Health Organization type 1A and 1B pesticides are prohibited, except where no other viable alternative is available.

The SFI program’s reach goes much further than its certification standards. The SFI community includes all of those who utilize the SFI standards, as well as researchers, labor organizations, First Nations & Tribes, conservation groups, government and land owners and land managers. According to a recent survey by GfK, more than 25% of U.S. consumers surveyed recognize the SFI label. In addition, almost 20% of Fortune 100 companies used the SFI label in 2014.

SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally. Since 1995, SFI program participants and their partners have invested in logger training for environmentally responsible timber harvesting that has reached more than 150,000 professionals. SFI Inc. has also awarded more than 50 SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships grants since 2010, totaling more than $1.9 million, to foster conservation and community-building projects. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $7.1 million.

"The revised SFI standards will continue to serve as a proof point for responsible forestry in North America," said Lawrence Selzer, Chair of the SFI Board of Directors and President and CEO of The Conservation Fund. "These standards are shaped by the people and communities who put them into practice every day."

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Sustainable Forestry Initiative introduces new standards
Building on SFI’s work over the past 20 years through a strengthened commitment to sustainability

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