I am pleased to announce that we’ve just released the latest SFI progress report, which measures our program’s progress in meeting its goals. This year’s report is truly special because its theme is “Power of Partnerships.”
Partnerships power the SFI program. They breathe life into our work, making it dynamic and exciting.
Together with our many partners, we share ideas and accomplish so much more in the forest, in communities, and in the marketplace. Our partners include community organizations and companies of all sizes, government agencies, conservation groups, Aboriginal people, customers and family forest owners.
We have a diverse range of partners because we respect and value all contributions, and believe everyone can benefit through involvement in the SFI program. After all, everyone has a responsibility to our forests and to our communities. This report touches on just a few of the accomplishments resulting from these amazing partnerships.
2010 is a perfect time to be celebrating the power of partnerships. We began the year by introducing our new SFI 2010-2014 Standard, concluding an 18-month open, consultative and inclusive review. The process invited input from more than 2,000 people, and was overseen by the independent External Review Panel. This collaboration did a lot to strengthen existing partnerships, and build new ones.
We also entered 2010 as the largest single forest certification standard in the world. This growth reflects the confidence and respect our program has earned. It places us in a leadership position to bring together people from different backgrounds and viewpoints to achieve our common goal — to strengthen forest practices.
You don’t have to look any further than the 950 people who make up our 37 SFI Implementation Committees. These committees are a unique and important part of our program. Close to half of the members are involved not because their organization is an SFI program participant, but because they understand the relevance and value of what we do. They know that they can, and are, making a difference. They include loggers, teachers, biologists and public officials. They are working to meet the needs of communities across the United States and Canada, arranging training sessions and workshops for loggers and family forest owners to expand the reach of responsible forest management.
Another fantastic partnership – one that means a lot to me – is our relationship with Habitat for Humanity. Local participants and SFI Implementation Committees have contributed time and resources to help build Habitat homes in Maine, Manitoba, Minnesota, Ontario and Tennessee – using SFI wood from local communities to build better communities. The SFI partnership includes the first Habitat home certified to the ANSI National Green Building Standard in the United States, the first certified to the Built Green Canada Program in Canada, and the first in a First Nation community in Canada. But what’s best is that these projects bring together volunteers to provide decent homes using local resources for hard-working families– people like Timothy Gistover who lives with his son in a Habitat home in Nashville built with the help of the SFI program and its partners.
We have just embarked on a new partnership initiative that will bring us closer to the conservation community. Through an ongoing Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, we have announced support for projects that will, among other things, improve forest habitat and wildlife biodiversity, strengthen knowledge and data, and reduce the risk of illegal products in the global supply chain. Our criteria called for projects that bring together partners and resources so we were not surprised to find that our initial commitment of $675,000 – $307,500 so far in 2010 alone – will leverage a total value of $2.7 million from all of those involved.
What is so heartening about everything we are doing right now – and what motivates SFI staff and all of our partners to work even harder – is the realization that more and more people are voicing their support for third-party certification and the SFI program.
The power of partnerships gives meaning to the work that we do, and motivates us to take on the challenges ahead and to seize the opportunities of the future. From everyone involved in the SFI program and everyone who benefits from this work, sincere thanks to all of our partners – we look forward to continuing to work with you.