Pledge by Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Advancing Sustainability Through Forest Certification and Conservation ImpactLeveraging Forest Certification for Forest Conservation and Management
Supporting actions: Sustainable Forestry, Avoided Deforestation, Tree Protection through Management, Environmental Education,
SFI pledges to leverage our forest certification standards, which provide on-the-ground assurances of critical environmental services including carbon sequestration, biodiversity enhancements, and water quality protection, and our “conservation impact” research, which measures the conservation outcomes across the SFI footprint of 370 million acres/150 million hectares across the U.S. and Canada and with the participation of over 200 organizations certified to the SFI standards.
The SFI Forest Management Standard includes numerous measures that ensure forests will remain under long-term sustainable management and that reduce loss of newly planted and existing trees from disease, invasive pests and vegetation, and other sources of tree mortality.
The Standard requires SFI certified organizations to reforest after harvest, protect forests from damaging agents, protect water quality through use of best management practices, conserve biological diversity, recognize and respect Indigenous rights, provide training of loggers, and conduct outreach to landowners and other community stakeholders. The Standard ensures that afforestation activities do not adversely affect important ecological communities. The Standard prevents fiber from deforested areas to be certified, therefore contributing to avoided deforestation efforts.
A cornerstone of the SFI program is third-party independent certification, which verifies that the requirements set out in the SFI standard have been met. To increase transparency, audit reports are posted to the SFI Inc website. In addition, SFI certified organizations annually report key data to SFI, such as hectares reforested and noteworthy research and conservation projects. This data is collected and communicated through SFI’s annual progress report.
The SFI Conservation Impact Project measures how the SFI certified footprint delivers important conservation outcomes. This collaborative effort specifically enumerates outcomes related to three key conservation themes – biodiversity conservation, water quality protection, and climate change adaptation and mitigation – on lands influenced by the SFI Forest Management Standard and the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard.
Since 2016, over 20 SFI sponsored research projects have been working to develop our understanding in these three areas. Our conservation impact studies, while ongoing, are already revealing valuable information. A study by Michigan State University found a strong confluence between the SFI Standards of Sustainability, and “Climate Smart Forestry”, which contributes to both carbon and to forest health and resiliency. Biodiversity projects have demonstrated that SFI certified lands are beneficial to wide-ranging species, species at risk, and specifically recovery of bird species that are in decline. And projects focused on water quality have shown that the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard’s requirements around water quality practices have elevated performance on a wide range of lands, including non-certified forests.
SFI has a network of over 200 organizations certified to the SFI Forest Management or SFI Fiber Sourcing Standards, including forest landowners, manufacturers, government agencies, Indigenous communities, conservation organizations, universities, and others, that are collectively supporting the efforts outlined in our pledge.
SFI’s Forest Management Standard directly contributes to sustainable forestry and the assurance that the 370 million-acre footprint of SFI-certified forests will remain under sustainable management. The Standard specifically assures regeneration (including tree planting) following harvest as well as the long-term stewardship of planted trees.
The SFI Forest Management Standard also delivers tree protection through management, with requirements that protect forests from damaging agents, such as environmentally undesirable wildfire, pests, diseases, and invasive species.
SFI’s Fiber Sourcing Standard contributes to the avoidance of deforestation, with requirements to proactively encourage the spread of responsible forestry practices, even to non-certified forests, and elevate forest retention and sustainability across the US and Canada.
SFI’s efforts include Project Learning Tree, SFI’s flagship environmental education program, which advances environmental literacy and promotes stewardship through excellence in environmental education, professional development, and curriculum resources that use trees and forests as windows on the world. PLT was selected as a Learning® magazine 2020 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award for the Classroom winner for its Carbon & Climate curriculum, which introduces 6th-8th grade students to some of the complex issues involved in climate change.
SFI’s pledge is embedded within an organization that practices responsible and equitable forestry daily at a continental scale. The SFI Forest Management Standard includes requirements that address long-term forest management planning and capacity, direct ecologically appropriate afforestation activities, limit conversion of forest types, require prompt reforestation, protect water quality through use of best management practices, and conserve biological diversity. Community-focused objectives recognize and respect Indigenous rights, provide training of loggers, and require engagement of landowners and community stakeholders.
SFI’s work extends beyond our forest certification standards, to our Conservation Impact research noted above, and our community engagement work. Our network of 34 SFI Implementation Committees respond to local needs and issues across North America at the state and provincial level. They collaborate with local organizations and individuals to share best practices and increase understanding of the values and benefits provided by sustainably managed forests.