Environment & Sustainability
SFI developing metrics for well-managed forests
By Cindy Macdonald
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is launching a large-scale effort to quantify the conservation benefits associated with well-managed forests.
The SFI Conservation Impact Project focuses on developing metrics for climate change mitigation, water quality and biodiversity, to encourage forest health, conservation and sound management. Quantifying these environmental benefits will also enable the SFI community to understand and promote the conservation values associated with sustainably managed forests.
“Having robust conservation data directly linked to sustainable forestry will help people take pride in the environmental benefits, like clean water and carbon storage, that we all enjoy from well-managed forests,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI Inc. “We firmly believe that the future of forests and the environment depends on understanding the contributions of sustainable forest management.”
The SFI Conservation Impact Project will be launched at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. “SFI is well-positioned to make a contribution to our alliance of key scientists and decision-makers. We are looking forward to the results of SFI’s work on measuring conservation values in working forests and how it will help deliver global conservation and nature-based solutions,” said Stewart Maginnis, global director of IUCN’s nature-based solutions group.
A large part of these conservation efforts are driven by SFI Program Participants. SFI certification standards require them to collaborate to support research to improve forest health, conservation understanding, productivity and sustainable management of forest resources. SFI is the only forest certification program in North America with a research requirement — resulting in $1.6 billion of investments from SFI Program Participants since 1995. In 2015 alone, 400 different conservation and research projects were reported by SFI Program Participants.
Mike Parr is vice-president and chief conservation officer at the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), an SFI partner. He explaisn that by working closely with SFI program participants that are linked to millions of acres of forestland, “we are helping to document how responsibly managed forests provide habitat for at-risk bird species, and to identify means of jointly enhancing this management to benefit birds still further.”
SFI has brought together a diverse group of scientists and leaders from academia, public agencies, the non-profit conservation community, SFI program participants and the SFI leadership to guide the Conservation Impact Project. “This diverse group of individuals will act as a sounding board to help ensure credibility and transparency, and will provide direct input into how the project develops,” said Paul Trianosky, chief conservation officer at SFI.
“SFI’s Conservation Impact Project will ultimately facilitate continual improvement in forest management practices, help ensure that these forests contribute meaningfully to conservation goals, and help build confidence in the users of sustainably sourced forest products about their connection to conservation outcomes.”
Forests certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard cover more than 113 million hectares.