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New standards, new ‘playbooks’ for foresters

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) updated forest certification standards provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

SFI Implementation Committees (SIC) like the Louisiana SIC are key players in implementing the new standards. That’s why SFI is developing a set of “playbooks” to help these grassroots SFI committees access resources and actionable tips. Developing these playbooks is just the latest example of the resources and collaborative spirit behind the new SFI standards.

Over the past two years, SFI engaged in extensive consultations as part of our goal of continuous improvement in our standards and guidance. We gathered input from more than 2,300 stakeholders from the conservation community, Indigenous communities, the forest products sector, brand owners, private forest landowners and public forest managers, government agencies, trade associations, landowner associations, academia, and the public, and have released new requirements in a variety of areas.

One of the new requirements is a climate-smart forestry objective. SFI recognizes forests play a central role in the carbon cycle and, with proper management, can be one of the most effective nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. SFI certified organizations are now required to ensure forest management activities address climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

SFI is enhancing the role of forests in climate change mitigation by leveraging the scale of SFI certified forests, which span over 370 million acres (including over 3 million acres in Louisiana), ensuring their management makes a positive contribution to carbon capture, climate resiliency and long-term carbon sequestration.

Tens of millions of acres are also positively influenced by the SFI 2022 Fiber Sourcing Standard. Through science-based management and third-party validated requirements, we can ensure healthy forests for our shared future in Louisiana and across the United States and Canada.

SICs work with local, forestry and professional associations, universities, government agencies, landowner groups, conservation groups, Project Learning Tree (PLT) SFI’s educational initiative, and many others to promote SFI standards as a way to broaden the practice of responsible forestry and achieve on-the-ground progress.

These SFI committees offer a forum to provide information about local forestry operations and respond to questions or concerns about forestry practices on SFI-certified lands. For example, loggers who are aware of their role as responsible professionals are better equipped to protect the environment. That’s why SFI Implementation Committees train thousands of people each year to improve their forestry practices and learn about the value of forests.

The requirements of the SFI 2022 Forest Management Standard and the SFI 2022 Fiber Sourcing Standard introduce new opportunities for engagement and collaboration through the SFI Implementation Committees. In a recent survey, an overwhelming majority of SFI-certified organizations showed an interest in collaborating with SFI Implementation Committees on these requirements.

The playbooks will support collaboration among SFI Implementation Committees and SFI-certified organizations. The playbooks will draw and build on the resources and information provided in the SFI Standard Guidance but go further in outlining specific steps and providing additional state resources. These playbooks will be shared with SFI Implementation Committees this spring and be discussed at a series of virtual workshops designed to build on decades of collaboration.

Since 1995, SFI-certified organizations have contributed nearly $75 million to support local programs through SFI Implementation Committees. This includes logger and forester training to reach the thousands of independent contractors who are the key to the quality of forest harvesting operations.

In addition to training, these grassroots SFI Implementation Committees also extend their work into local initiatives supporting community outreach and education programs. Project Learning Tree works with the Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA) to deliver PLT workshops to help educators learn how to teach kids about the value of sustainable forest management. Pre-pandemic, LFA would host summer teacher tours that featured PLT materials. The print edition of Forests & People magazine has featured PLT’s family activities in a regular “Connecting Kids to Nature” column since 2008.

The Louisiana SIC has also collaborated with SFI and its partners to enhance conservation efforts in the state. Supporting forest research is required for SFI certification.

The Managed Forests for Birds: Spreading the Word Across the Landscape Project facilitated an open discussion in Louisiana between SFI-certified organizations, bird watchers and conservationists at the American Bird Conservancy, private forest owners and harvesting professionals. A combination of presentations and field site visits helped demonstrate the conservation value of sustainably managed forests for birds and elevated the role of SFI certification in achieving and promoting that value.

The work of the Louisiana SIC is an important part of the larger efforts of SFI’s diverse network. The pandemic meant suspending some of the face-to-face activities that define the network, including the SFI Annual Conference. But the 2022 SFI/PLT Annual Conference is going ahead and we encourage you to join us to celebrate the conference theme: Collaborating for Communities and Forests. We hope to see you in Madison, Wisconsin, June 14-17.

(Nadine Block is SFI’s Senior Vice President of Community and Government Relations. Jason Metnick is SFI’s Senior Vice President of Customer Affairs.)


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