Hello, and Welcome!

I’m Kathy Abusow, president & CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.  This is my first blog, and I’m excited about its prospects.  I’m looking forward to discussing the issues facing forestry today and also to engaging in a dialogue with visitors, not only about certification and sustainability, but how they can be active participants in the health of our forests.  

I have always had a great appreciation for the beauty of the forests.  We love them for the recreation, environmental and spiritual benefits they bring to our lives. At the same time, they provide important products for our every day lives – products like lumber for our homes, paper for the books we read and packaging for some of our favorite products.  But it’s critical that our forests are managed in a way that preserves their abundance for future generations.  That is what the SFI Program is about and I am proud to be leading it.

Across North America, there are 150 million acres (60 million hectares) certified to the SFI standard, meaning these forests are being managed to conserve wildlife habitat, species at risk, water quality and much more.  It also means that the environment is being protected and trees are being replanted in areas that were harvested.  

SFI and other forest certification standards have helped stimulate tremendous progress in managing our forests.  But we still have a long way to go.  Only 10% of the world’s forestland is certified.   We need to raise that amount ever year.  Businesses and consumers can do their part by purchasing forest products that come from certified forests.  

So, that is my first post.  Please feel free to comment and/or send me questions!

6 thoughts on “Hello, and Welcome!

  1. Do you feel that there is any chance that the Leed program will not accept SFI certification?
    Our customers are very concerned about SFI certification losing any value if the Leed system does not move in this direction.

  2. I would like to commend the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in its partnering with Habitat for Humanity and improving the world in which we live, one home owner at a time, with sustainably managed forest products.

    Good job and keep up the great work!

  3. How can we avoid being defensive about the antisfi campaign? We were confronted with this issue by a major retailer.

  4. First of all, thanks for stopping by and being the first to post a comment on the blog! We are really excited about this blog and think it’ll be a great way to hold discussions on important topics and bring together a community of people interested in the health of the world’s forests.

    Rick, thanks for your kind words about the Habitat for Humanity project. The Minnesota SFI Implementation Committee was the first to partner with Habitat and Maine the next. I think one of SFI’s strengths is that our grass roots happens to be the 37 SFI Implementation Committees across North America that work to promote landowner outreach, logger training, and education opportunities in the community. They also do wonderful things like showing their support for the community and these recent Habitat for Humanity projects is just a great example of this. It shows that SFI doesn’t just promote sustainable forest management, it promotes sustainable communities by bringing Senators, girl scouts, tree farmers, youth programs, banks and SFI volunteers together. We hope to see more of these projects in the coming years.

    The video montage we saw at the conference is a bit of a tear-jerker and really gives a good sense of the project. We’re just getting it web-ready and will let you know on the blog when it is available – stay tuned!

    Kathy

  5. Ron, your question about forest certification and LEED is a good one and very relevant a topic to a lot people in the sector. I think the topic deserves it’s own post and will post it later today!

    Kathy

  6. Thanks for your entry, Edwin, and I am glad you asked the question. I think we need to take pride in the SFI Standard, its independent governance, its independent 3rd party certifications, its promotion of sustainable harvest levels, prompt regeneration, wildlife habitat maintenance, as well as the mechanisms we have in place to deal with big global issues such as illegal logging.

    We need to take pride in the partnerships we have formed. We need to stay positive and give those with false perceptions of SFI the opportunity to get to know SFI, the real SFI. We at SFI Inc. have started to do that. We have written the campaigning organizations that have inaccurate misinformation about our program and have let them know exactly where their information needs to be updated to reflect the real SFI that exists today in October 2009, not the SFI that existed in 1998, and not the SFI that sometimes only existed in their minds.

    We have to be honest about what our program delivers and doesn’t deliver and we have to also help them to play fairly and understand what their preferred certification program does deliver and does not deliver as well.

    I am hopeful that by working with these organizations and reaching out to them, they may become more understanding of SFI’s strengths and more accepting of the fact that some of the weaknesses we have, are not that different from other certification programs. Perhaps then we can work together on improving existing certification programs, but more importantly work together on the bigger issue – like the 90% of the world’s forests that are not certified, and where real issues like illegal logging are threatening the environment, society, the economy and a healthy climate. In North America, we tend to get distracted on the nuances between certification programs and arguing over who is the A+ student and who is the A student, while nobody pays attention to the student that doesn’t even write the exam, never mind pass it. So, if we can start working together on the big issues, we will be able to accomplish much more for the future of our forests, the world’s forests and of course generations to come.

    Oh yes, the major retailer, we’d be happy to meet with the retailer (or any retailer)to discuss their concerns and share some recent information about SFI. Experience to date has shown that meeting with retailers and others in the supply chain has helped them better understand the strengths of the SFI program.

    Kathy

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