Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, ON — The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), participating in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress today, shared the news of its new forest certification standard revisions, which advance solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.
The new standards build on SFI’s announcement at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 of the formation of the Conservation Impact Project, which is focused on addressing climate change, biodiversity, and water quality on the SFI footprint.
This combination of SFI’s standards and conservation work helps provide nature-based solutions to global challenges such as climate change, while contributing to biodiversity. Coupled with SFI’s scale, as represented in hectares influenced by SFI standards and by the strength of the SFI network, including conservation collaborations, this combination of standards and conservation can provide transformational solutions.
“SFI has a mission to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration, and together, our new standards and conservation work position SFI as leader in leveraging the power of sustainably managed forests as a tool of change,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO, SFI. “Our association with IUCN facilitates our ability to work collaboratively with critical partners and contribute to these important issues.”
One highlight of the new standards is the SFI Climate Smart Forestry Objective. 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 will now be required to ensure forest management activities address climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
Another important highlight is the SFI Fire Resilience and Awareness Objective, which requires SFI-certified organizations to limit susceptibility of forests to undesirable impacts of wildfire and to raise community awareness of fire benefits, risks, and minimization measures.
“The new SFI standards include real, tangible actions that will impact hundreds of millions of acres, transforming how we manage forests now and into the future,” said Karla Guyn, CEO of Ducks Unlimited Canada, a member of the Canadian Committee for the IUCN, and Chair of the SFI Board. “Thanks to the collaborative process that led to their development, I believe we’ll see important progress on key issues like mitigating climate change, supporting wildlife, cleaning our water, and contributing to the economic recovery process.”
The updated SFI standards build on knowledge gained through the SFI Conservation Impact Project, which is focused on measuring the role of the 150 million hectares of forestland certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard and millions of additional hectares impacted by the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard in addressing climate change, biodiversity, and water purification. IUCN members participating in the standard revision include Nature Conservancy Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, NatureServe, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Conservation Impact Project helps facilitate continual improvement of the SFI standards, gives SFI-certified organizations the opportunity to better understand their contributions to conservation, provides conservationists deeper insights into the value of sustainable forest management, and helps consumers make better choices for the planet. For example, a recently completed study of SFI-certified forestlands in the United States indicates that these forests harbor more than 20 billion tons of carbon and capture about 235 million tons of carbon each year, underscoring their value in fighting climate change.
The new standards will take effect in January 2022 and will be endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The standards address key themes identified by the IUCN as global priorities, including managing landscapes for nature and people; conserving fresh water to sustain life; accelerating climate change mitigation and adaptation; upholding rights and ensuring effective and equitable governance; leveraging economic and financial systems for sustainability; and advancing knowledge, learning, innovation, and technology.