Larry Selzer: The Value of America’s Working Forests

Larry Selzer covered a lot of ground in his keynote address at the SFI annual conference. It was clearly well received, and was one of the highlights of the event.

Larry is an incredible advocate for working forests and certification because he has such a unique perspective. He heads The Conservation Fund, a top-ranked non-profit that last year was named #1 on Charity Navigator’s list of 10 of the Best Charities Everyone’s Heard Of for its efficient and fiscally responsible performance.

The Conservation Fund owns almost 100,000 acres of working forests in the United States. They are all actively managed, and certified to the SFI Standard. Larry has been a firm supporter of SFI certification since it began; he is currently vice chair of our board and a member of the board’s Conservation Chamber.

In his speech, he said he would like working forests to be seen as an essential part of infrastructure – like our rail lines, fiber optic cables and interstate highway system. “If we reframe our conversations about forests to include water security, energy independence and jobs here at home, I believe this will elevate them to a much higher level of discourse when it comes to policy decisions, funding and citizen support.”

He also issued some tough challenges. Environmental activists need to shift from dissembling and name calling to finding ways to expand conservation; corporate leaders need to stand up for what is right, not what is expedient; and elected officials need to recognize an investment in forests is an investment in clean air, clean water, energy independence and good jobs.

Larry is serving his second term on the SFI Board. He told us he came back because SFI is making a real difference on the ground, there is so much more to do to make sure we do not continue to lose millions of acres of working forests, and because the vast majority of the world’s forests are not yet certified. He was clear that he did not come back to respond to a steady stream of attacks by market campaign groups.

“If well-managed forests are the goal, we should all be celebrating the remarkable victory of having millions of acres of forests across North America certified,” he said. “We should not be wasting precious resources while millions of acres of forests disappear.”

I would encourage you to read Larry’s speech and circulate it – and let me know if you have thoughts about how we can build on his ideas. Larry ended with a quote from actor Christopher Reeve that is quite apt: “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

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  1. Pingback: Reframing the debate on working forests » One Voice for Working Forests

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