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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sept / Oct 2003 : Special Section : SFI: A Good Sign Somebody Cares

Special Section

SFI: A Good Sign Somebody Cares

North America’s largest forest certification program, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative®, continues to grow, and is now considered responsible for positively impacting forest
management on nearly every one of the 540 million acres of private forestland in the United States.

Participants in the program produce the lion’s share of forest products made in this country, from dimensional lumber to office paper, from newsprint to flooring, and practically everything in between. SFI program participants plant more than 650 million new trees every year—1.7 million per day. They also oversee the natural regeneration of millions of new trees annually.

But it is worth a look at where the program came from to fully appreciate where the program is going.

Inspired by the 1987 sustainability report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (later adopted by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit), a group of foresters, conservationists, scientists, landowners and other stakeholders came together to develop the SFI program. They felt there had to be a way to further ensure protection of the environment without sacrificing the ability to meet growing demand for wood and paper products.

The group created a comprehensive program that integrates the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, water and air quality. Based on the premise that responsible environmental behavior and sound business decisions can co-exist to everyone’s benefit, the program has been going strong for almost a decade.

During this time, the program has kicked out members for failure to comply, developed an independent third-party certification system, created an independent governing body of environmentalists, academics and forest industry leaders called the Sustainable Forestry Board to oversee and manage the standard, trained over 75,000 logging professionals in the principles of sustainable forestry, and developed a rigorous on-product labeling program. Most recently, SFI program participants joined the U.S. government in pledging to use their combined strengths to stamp out illegal logging here and around the world.

And the program grows. Already supported by 40 conservation groups, 18 state legislatures and seven major labor organizations, the SFI program is looking to do for purchasing wood and paper products what it has already done for making those products. The more consumers seek out certified forest products, either from the SFI program or equivalent standards, the faster and farther the concept of sustainable forestry can spread. And that would truly be a good sign somebody cares.

Next Article...
Sustainable Forestry Leadership

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