Sourcing products from well‑managed forests certified to an independent third-party standard is an effective way to help your organisation meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other sustainability targets while helping forests. Of course, the idea that creating more commercial demand for forests products could actually help protect forests seems counterintuitive. But the more value we place on using forest products sustainably, the more we will keep forests as forests instead of letting them be converted to other uses. 

Achieving the SDGs is highly ambitious, and no organization, institution, government or business can achieve it alone. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is committed to doing its part, in the spirit of partnership, to help the consumer goods sector make sustainable choices that benefit future forests because forests affect us all.  

Forests are essential ­

Without healthy forests, everyone’s quality of life would be threatened. Imagine a world where our clean water and air were compromised? A world where more and more species were at risk. A world where an important engine for economic growth was no longer able to sustain countless communities. That is a world without healthy forests.

But, together we have the power to keep that grim future from unfolding. The sourcing decisions you make can have a positive impact. Clearly, it is in everyone’s best interest to avoid sources that result in deforestation, the permanent loss of forests. Sourcing from well-managed forests ensure harvested areas are regenerated and conservation values are maintained or enhanced. The SFI community is working hard to give you the right options so you can make the best choices for forests. See my TEDx talk, ‘The Power of Sustainable Forests’ for more.

Consider water as one example. Nearly two thirds of the water Canadians drink and half of the water Americans drink comes from forests. Choosing forest products certified to SFI means that at the harvesting stage a trained logger adhered to strict best management practices for water quality.

Forests also provide habitat for an incredible range of species some of which are under pressure in some way. The SFI Forest Management Standard includes measures to protect wildlife habitat and species at risk, which gives you the supply chain assurance you need. SFI also uses its vast scale to help partners like the American Bird Conservancy conduct large research projects and implement management practices in forests to help bring back forest birds.

Climate change is another important focus for SFI. The SFI Conservation Impact Project is working to develop metrics to quantify carbon storage in forests certified to SFI. This has the potential to produce valuable data for supply chain managers looking for carbon offset opportunities. And, on the topic of climate change, let’s not forget how CGF members committed to achieving zero-net deforestation by 2020 and announced support for the Paris Climate Agreement.

SFI also aligns with the UN SDGs when it comes to economic development. The US forest products industry generates over $200 billion a year in sales, according to the USDA Forest Service. Canada’s forest sector adds roughly $22 billion to Canada’s GDP, according to the Canadian Forest Service. Much of this economic growth helps support rural communities. SFI’s training for harvesting professionals and the SFI Forest Management Standard’s focus on worker’s rights helps make these jobs and communities sustainable.


Delivering supply chain assurance

To realise the fundamental environmental, social and economic benefits we get from forests, we need to ensure our forests are responsibly managed and valued by all consumers. SFI works with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, local communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, universities, and educators to conserve forests and make sure working forests are managed sustainably.

Forest products that are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard offers a proof point that the forest has been managed according to multiple environmental, social and economic values — today and into the future. SFI’s Chain-of-Custody Standard and SFI labels are a reliable way for businesses to assure customers that they are making a good environmental choice. SFI’s Chain-of-Custody Standard is an accounting system that tracks forest fiber content through production and manufacturing to the end product. The SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard governs how SFI Program Participants procure fibre from non-certified forestland. This encourages the spread of responsible forestry, given that about 90% of the world’s forests are uncertified.

These forest certification standards are based on multi-stakeholder governance and dialogue and are outstanding, well-established systems for supporting sustainability. Direct participation in forest certification processes is a tangible action consumer goods companies can take in supporting SDG implementation. 

You can learn more about how we are delivering supply chain assurance by visiting us at the CGF’s Sustainable Retail Summit in Montreal, from 2nd-3rd October.

  This post was written and contributed by:

  Kathy Abusow
  President and CEO of Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
  an independent, non-profit sustainability leader that stands for future forests.