A forest certified to the sustainable forestry initiative standard in B.C..

Planning for the future

The trees and wildlife are such an integral part of what makes the Kootenays an enjoyable place to visit

Chris Stedile

 

Castlegar News

 

The trees and wildlife are such an integral part of what makes the Kootenays an enjoyable place to visit, explore and live and the folks at Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) get that.

They have completed their most recent five year standards and rules  outline to help keep not only our forests in good health, but those around the globe.

SFI Inc. is an independent, nonprofit organization that is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized SFI program.

Across Canada and the United States, more than 100 million hectares are certified to the SFI forest management standard, the largest single forest standard in the world.

The new guidelines are for the years 2015-2019 and, according to SFI, mark an important advancement to support better decision making all along the supply chain and to promote sustainable forest management.

“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.”

The first of three main additions to SFI’s program is the management standard which promotes sustainable forestry practices. These requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.

Second is the Fibre Sourcing Standard, including measures to broaden the conservation of biodiversity, best forestry management practices to protect water quality, outreach to landowners and utilize the services of forest management and harvesting professionals.

Because it directs how SFI Program Participants procure fibre from non-certified land, this standard encourages the use of responsible forestry practices.

Finally, comes the chain of custody standard which is global and is used in over 35 countries around the world.

“That’s the standard where you track what comes from a certified forest what comes from an uncertified forest and what, let’s say in paper, might be recycled content for example. That is global and I think that’s important,” she said.

With a Board of Directors consisting of the likes of Ducks Unlimited Canada’s CEO, executive director of Invasive Species Council of BC, and the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, SFI looks to create a fair and diverse body to ensure the forests around the world are properly managed.

“When we revise a new standard every five years we go out to everyone,” Abusow said.

SFI sent individualized emails to around 10,000 organizations. Additionally, they held two 60-day open consultation periods where it was made very simple for people to submit their comments online and if they didn’t like the online format, SFI conducted 10 workshops across Canada and the United States where those interested could arrive in person. Vancouver was host to their First Nations and Tribal workshop.

“In general, why does the standard matter?” Abusow asked. “I think the future of our forests matter for everyone. Clean water, clean air we breathe, wildlife habitat, community jobs, economic well-being, etc. We need to take care of the forests and we revise our standards every five years to ensure that we’re up to speed with research that is conducted with market expectations and emerging issues that might of occurred.”

On top of watching over the ways lumber is extracted and handled, SFI is leading the charge in forestry research.

SFI is the only standard that has a forest research requirement.

“So if you’re implementing our standard you must invest in some form of forest research,” Abusow explained.

An organization seeking certification to the SFI standard must, amongst other requirements, show proof that they are supporting forestry research in some way. This research isn’t limited to forest productivity, but also includes, water quality, wildlife habitat, community issues and much more.

Another first for SFI is third-party auditing.

We’re the only standard out there that actually sets a standard that’s audited by a third party, for the product that comes from an uncertified supply chain. In Canada where the majority of our lands are certified, it might not seem as important, but around the world only 10 per cent of the forests are certified and there is a real need to promote responsible forestry on all lands supplying the forest sector, and that’s what the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard does.

SFI continues to expand it’s influence all the time, with over 20 per cent of Fortune 100 companies using the SFI label on product.

“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.”

Abusow added, “Forests are a gift. They’re renewable, they can be well managed and they support healthy lifestyles through the great outdoors.”

 

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