The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) is the non-profit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized SFI Sustainable Forestry Standard. The standard specifies sourcing requirements for forestry companies. These companies provide the wood for countless products, including the fiber for paper products.
The SFI standard protects our forests by setting the standard for how we can continue to use forests for all that they provide: fresh air, clean water, jobs, shelter, fuelwood, wildlife habitat, tools, and toys—while maintaining our forests for future generations.
When you purchase a product bearing the SFI logo, it means that the forestland your wood product originated from is certified sustainable to the SFI standard by a third-party auditor. Companies voluntarily choose to become certified. Voluntary third-party forest certification began in the 1990s in response to market concerns about forest management and illegal logging.
SFI, launched in 1994, was motivated by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. By 1998, SFI had its first national standard, which was, and is, backed by third-party audits. Now there are 250 million acres of forestland in North America certified to the SFI standard.
The SFI standard is updated every five years through a robust public process that includes extensive stakeholder input, reviewing the latest research and addressing current issues, like genetically modified trees. SFI ensures continuous improvement of the standard while capturing the array of views the public holds of forestlands.
SFI’s new 2015-2019 standard took effect on January 1st, 2015. SFI’s board chair, Larry Selzer, succinctly defines the forestry standard in his January 27th, 2015, article for Green Biz: “This standard lets consumers know that the wood products they buy come from responsibly managed forests that protect wildlife, biodiversity and water quality.“
The 2015-2019 standard includes new requirements supporting the diversity of forest types and the conservation of sites with significant species of concern. It also prohibits the conversion of forest types and limits the use of chemicals. It calls for landowners to be knowledgeable of the latest climate change science. These updates bolster the standard’s protection of water resources and attention to sustainable growth.
SFI & Manomet
At one time, Selzer served as a scientist in Manomet’s marine program. He also ran Manomet’s fishery observer program, which stationed observers on domestic and foreign fishing vessels to monitor their catches.
Selzer is now president of The Conservation Fund, in addition to chairing SFI’s board. Also serving on the SFI board is our very own Manomet President, John Hagan. Selzer and Hagan worked together at Manomet starting in 1986.
“Larry is easily one of the nation’s smartest conservation leaders, and I’m fortunate to have him as a friend for nearly three decades, starting when he was at Manomet,” said Hagan. Hagan and Selzer see sustainably-managed working forests as one of the best ways to keep water clean, keep carbon out of the atmosphere, and make habitat for birds and other wildlife. That’s why these two conservationists serve on the SFI board.
Manomet also works with forestland owners through its Climate Smart Land Network—a voluntary, nationwide program that assists landowners in managing their land for climate change. The Network now has 15 million acres of forestland enrolled. It engages a sector that will be essential to preparing North America for the climate of the 21st century. The Network is perfectly set up to support landowners under the new standard.
Despite the admirable, and many would say essential, work of SFI and other similar programs such as the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and the Forest Stewardship Council, only 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified. However, across Canada and the United States, 250 million acres are certified to the SFI forest management standard, the largest certification system in North America.