I’ve been involved in the forest sector for 20 years and I can honestly say I don’t remember a time when the sector faced as many challenges as it does today. It seems every day I am hearing of more mill closures, consolidation, layoffs, etc. I’ve seen some tough times in the sector for sure, and yet I’m always impressed by the resiliency of the sector and its passion for our forests.
This commitment to the environment is evident in SFI’s record growth over the past year. We’ve averaged more than one certification per day, and today we have more than 1000 locations certified across North America and more than 700 organizations are involved in our program. From land owners and managers to wood procurement companies to lumber yards, furniture makers, printers and paper makers and packaging companies to governments and customers – we are witnessing a unprecedented commitment to responsible forest management. This at time, when as a sector, we are clearly hurting.
I can’t say for sure what 2009 will hold for the forest sector, no one can. I can say this though, our forests in North America and globally are still a priority, that sustainable forest management and sustainable communities are paramount. However, with only 10% of the world’s forests certified, the health and sustainability of forests and our communities depends on us working together not against one another. This is not the time to support a monopoly, we need choice in forest certification programs, it’s time for us to work together to ensure our forests are there for future generations, that our customers have choice and consumers have access to forest products from well-managed forests. Whether you’re a printer, a forest company, another certification program, an environmentalist or anyone that cares about the world’s forests, I invite you all to work together with us at SFI to address the challenges facing our forest sector and seize the opportunities to promote sustainable forest management globally.