Support from Diverse Communities is the Key to Sustainable Future Forests

Shaping the forest of the future requires cooperating with a wide range of interests today. The forest community must find common ground to ensure the sustainability of future forests. That’s why the SFI Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) brings landowners and brand owners from across the supply chain together with communities, conservation groups and other key forestry interests to tackle the issues that define forests today and will shape the future of forests.

National Forest Week, from September 21 to 27, is a chance to motivate people across Canada to understand that the future of our forests depends on strengthening connections between healthy forests, sustainable communities and responsible purchasing. The Canadian Forestry Association chose “Sunrise in the Forest” as the theme of National Forest Week. It celebrates the fact that a new day is dawning across Canada’s forests — one with great opportunity and great rewards.

SFI® shares this view. We are an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through certification. Last week, almost 300 people came together at the SFI annual conference in Montreal to look at ways we could encourage responsible stewardship. The SFI board set the tone for the conference during a panel discussion focused on future forests.

Greg Siekaniec, CEO of Ducks Unlimited Canada and SFI board member, pointed to how collaboration between SFI and Ducks Unlimited was key to helping to preserve globally significant breeding areas for birds in Canada’s boreal forest. His ability to bring the diverse Ducks Unlimited community together with the larger forest community should serve as a model for future forest management.

Mark Rodgers, the chief operating officer for Habitat for Humanity Canada, celebrated the signing of a memorandum of mutual understanding with SFI at the conference. During the board panel discussion he remarked on how the SFI community is not only donating forest products to Habitat builds, its education programs are helping homeowners understand the links between their new home and sustainable forest management. Connecting our impact on future forests to how we build and maintain our homes today is something all Canadians should be encouraged to do.

Anne Giardini, a director and officer at Weyerhaeuser, challenged the SFI community to continue to expand funding for conservation research. She also challenged local communities to come forward with their own ideas for conservation projects.

Since 1995, SFI members have invested nearly $1.4 billion in research. Research is leading to real advances in forest conservation — like partnering with the University of Saskatchewan to ensure habitats can be maintained for caribou and grizzly bears in Alberta and working with the Nature Conservancy Canada to help bats in the West Kootenays avoid deadly fungal disease. Ducks Unlimited Canada worked with engineers from FPInnovation and SFI Program Participants to come up with best practices for resource road wetland crossings.

These are just a few examples of multiple efforts supported by the SFI community. Since 2010, SFI has awarded more than 50 SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships grants totaling more than $1.9 million to foster research and to pilot efforts to better inform future decisions about our forests. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $7.1 million.

These three board members were part of a larger discussion at our annual conference. We also heard from Aboriginal representatives, conservation and community organizations, university professionals, students, government agencies and resource professionals. We came together to exchange ideas about how to improve forestry practices for the sake of healthy, thriving forests that we all rely on.

It’s an important discussion that we should all be having not just during National Forest Week but all year long — because the actions we take today determine the future of our forests.

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