We depend on forests for our existence, for the clean air we breathe, for the clean water we drink, for wildlife habitat, and for carbon sequestration. We depend on forests to sustain sacred places and communities. Forests also provide us with an endless stream of products that contribute to our shelter, our literacy, our energy sources, our culture, and our health, well-being and livelihoods. We know these things, yet too often we take them for granted.
We need to be more conscious in our relationship with forests, how we value them, how we manage them, and how we live with them. The theme of our progress report is The Future is Decided Now — we want to convey through this theme that the decisions we make, and the actions we take today, can have a real influence on the future of our forests and, in turn, on our collective future. In this report, we reflect on the past year and we look further ahead to understand the dynamics and outcomes associated with our programmatic decisions and the decisions of those around us.
While forests are characterized by natural disturbances and are dramatically influenced by fire, insects, disease, and climate, we make decisions that determine how and whether we manage for fire, how and whether we control insects and disease, how and whether we can maximize carbon storage and mitigate climate change. The how and the whether are influenced by our knowledge, by our research, by our conservation objectives and ultimately by our decisions on our forestlands and others.
Decisions we make today will influence whether markets for illegal logging thrive or die, they will influence the value placed on ecosystem services, or the emphasis we give to renewable energy, or the care we take to address species at risk. We can influence whether forests grow in area and in biodiversity, or whether they are threatened or converted to other uses. This report shows how decisions made by SFI leaders in the past led to innovative approaches for promoting responsible forest practices that are unmatched by any other certification program in the world. They have positively contributed to the forests we have today through unique requirements for logger training, use of best management practices for water quality, fiber sourcing, and a solid commitment to research. The stories herein provide insight into why we have strengthened our standard in the areas we have, why we chose to support selected conservation, indigenous and community projects, and how we decided that we could extend the scope of our long-standing grassroots network of implementation committees, unique to the SFI program, to engage in community and youth projects. Through these actions, we believe we can contribute to a future of healthy forests and communities.
Our SFI program participants know that buyers of forest products can make or break a forest community by recognizing the products that come from a well-managed forest or by neglecting to include 196 million acres (79 million hectares) of SFI-certified forestland in North America, and 364 million acres (147 million hectares) of SFI-recognized forestland through affiliated certifying organizations. At SFI we want to thank green building programs that recognize forest products and forest certification, and we want people to understand that saying no to forest products doesn’t translate into more forests, it translates into less forestland. Without markets for forest products, there is a risk forests will be converted to other uses. We want people to understand that saying yes to SFI certification sends a signal for more logger training, more landowner outreach, more wildlife habitat, more conservation easements, more community outreach and more conservation partnerships, and of course more well-paying jobs in the forest sector. We are committed to responsible forestry, and we are committed to partnerships that educate tomorrow’s leaders in responsible forestry, so that tomorrow’s forests can be as good as or better than today’s.
We hope you make a choice today to support our program and all the organizations that support responsible forestry. Please do your part. The future is decided now.