Submitted: Kathi Rowzie March 1, 2022
The SFI 2022 Standards and Rules are now in effect on more than 350 million acres/140 million hectares certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard, and tens of millions more certified to the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard. Announced on Earth Day 2021, the standards support SFI’s leadership in offering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges. Of particular note:
- Requirements for a new SFI Climate Smart Forestry Objective are one of the highlights of the new standards. Forests play a central role in the carbon cycle and with proper management, can be one of the most effective nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. SFI-certified organizations will now be required to ensure forest management activities address climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
- SFI is elevating its role in addressing fire by introducing a new SFI Fire Resilience and Awareness Objective. Forest fires have long played a role in the evolution and function of natural ecosystems, but we are now seeing an increase in catastrophic fires that have dire consequences for our forests, wildlife, and communities. SFI-certified organizations are now required to limit susceptibility of forests to undesirable impacts of wildfire and to raise community awareness of fire benefits, risks, and minimization measures.
- An important component of the SFI standards is Objective 8, Recognize and Respect Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. The SFI standards promote respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights, representative institutions, and traditional knowledge, and are aligned with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Specific measures require that SFI-certified organizations are aware of traditional forest-related knowledge, such as known cultural heritage sites, the use of wood in traditional buildings and crafts, and flora that may be used in cultural practices for food, ceremonies, or medicine.
SFI revises and updates the SFI standards to incorporate the latest scientific information, respond to emerging issues, and ensure continual improvement. The process to develop these standards included engagement with the conservation community, Indigenous communities, the forest products sector, brand owners, private forest landowners and public forest managers, government agencies, trade associations, landowner associations, academia, and the public.
SFI is governed by an 18-member Board of Director, which sets SFI’s strategic direction and represents the environmental, social and economic sectors. SFI Board members include executive-level representatives of conservation organizations, academic institutions, aboriginal/tribal entities, family forest owners, public officials, labor and the forest products industry. The SFI External Review Panel also provides ongoing, independent review of SFI and its work. This volunteer panel is made up of external experts representing conservation, environmental, forestry, Indigenous, academic, social, and government organizations. The panel helps monitor the SFI standard revision process and reviews every public comment submitted to ensure that the revision process is transparent and objective.