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New forest certification standards offer nature-based solutions to the climate crisis

Sponsored: The new Sustainable Forestry Initiative 2022 standards will ensure healthy forests that lead to benefits such as avoiding deforestation and fighting climate change.


Looking up at an SFI-certified forest in Wisconsin. Image courtesy of SFI.

This article is sponsored by Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) updated forest certification standards provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges. Sustainable forest management and the procurement of wood products from sustainably managed sources are critical tools that help avoid deforestation. When supported by the right policy frameworks, sustainable forest management acts as a bold but proven approach to tackling multiple global challenges by doing good instead of just avoiding harm.

SFI is the largest forest certification standard in the world and its requirements are backed by third-party verification audits. SFI certification ensures healthy forests that mitigate climate change, reduce the impacts of catastrophic fire, protect and maintain biodiversity and verify that fiber is sourced legally and sustainably. 

Standards built through collaboration

SFI regularly revises and updates the SFI standards to incorporate the latest scientific information, respond to emerging issues and ensure continual improvement. This open and transparent process includes engaging thousands from the conservation community, Indigenous communities, the forest products sector, brand owners, private forest landowners, public forest managers, government agencies, trade associations, landowner associations, academia and the public.

Proactively addressing climate change

The new SFI Climate Smart Forestry Objective is a highlight of the new standards. It supports a commitment to ensuring SFI standards address critical global sustainability issues. Forests and forest products 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 are required to ensure forest management activities address climate change adaptation and incorporate mitigation measures.

SFI is mobilizing forests for climate change mitigation by leveraging the scale of SFI‑certified forests, which span over 370 million acres, ensuring that their management contributes positively to carbon capture, climate resiliency and long-term carbon sequestration. Through science-based management and third-party validated requirements, we can ensure healthy forests for our shared future.

Addressing climate change and reducing the impact of wildfires

Sustainable forest management is also a key mitigation tool in the fight against catastrophic wildfires. The SFI Forest Management Standard has a new Fire Resiliency and Awareness Objective that requires SFI-certified organizations to limit susceptibility to undesirable impacts of wildfire, promote healthy and resilient forest conditions through management techniques, support restoration of forests following wildfire damage and engage in efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of fire management and minimization of undesirable impacts of wildfire.

New tools to measure carbon and water

In December, SFI and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) launched the SFI‑NCASI Carbon and Water Tools. These science-based tools will increase understanding of how SFI-certified forests can be used as nature-based solutions to help mitigate climate change and ensure water conservation. 

Forests are a powerful resource to mitigate climate change — but we can’t take them for granted. 

Forests and forest products capture almost 15 percent of our global carbon emissions each year. But to harness and maximize this nature-based solution to climate change, we need to acknowledge and support the role of sustainably managed forests. By using certified products that leverage forests and forest management in the battle against climate change, we can share a sustainable future.  

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