More than 600 people joined the 2021 Virtual SFI Annual Conference, May 12-14, to learn from a diverse and dynamic group of speakers about critical global issues facing our sector.

Climate change: How will sustainably managed forests and forest products help meet the climate challenge? A big part of the answer we heard at the conference is using tools like requirements for climate-smart forestry and fire resiliency and awareness that are included in the newly approved SFI 2022 Standards and Rules.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG): The increasing influence of ESG factors and how SFI’s work aligns with helping companies meet new reporting structures was the focus of much discussion. Speakers and attendees identified a need to help elevate understanding of the positive role of the forest sector among a variety of audiences.

Species recovery and conservation: Presentations and discussions explored research projects and other collaborations to achieve species recovery and broad conservation outcomes on SFI-certified lands in the U.S. and Canada.

Workforce needs: There was a strong consensus on the importance of building a diverse and resilient workforce for the future, and how we can overcome challenges in reaching young, diverse audiences. Panelists suggested tools and partnerships that will enable us to make progress on this issue.

Urban and community forests: Forests are central to addressing so many issues from climate to equity in our urbancommunities. Conference attendees learned about the planned development of the SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard in collaboration with five urban forestry leaders: American Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Society of Municipal Arborists, and Tree Canada.

WHAT THEY SAID

Beyond the issues we covered, there was a passion for collaboration, a joint optimism about moving forward together, and an overall commitment to providing better choices for people and the planet. Here are a few of the favorite things that we heard:

“Sustainability is about hope and ‘active hope’ is a verb with its sleeves rolled up! Active hope is what puts sustainability into action. This is exactly what SFI does. SFI’s new 2022 standards are full of real and tangible actions that will impact hundreds of millions of acres.”

Karla Guyn, CEO, Ducks Unlimited Canada
“The more voices you have, the louder you are. And as we’re talking about increasing the visibility of urban forests, the SFI standard has the potential to facilitate more understanding of the benefits of trees and forests.”
Caitlyn Pollihan, CEO, International Society of Arboriculture
“I think about SFI and all the good work that takes place. And when I think about it with an Indigenous lens, there’s a huge overlap; sustainable forest management is close to our hearts.”
Amy Rose, Manager for Indigenous Relations, Canfor
“Our managed forests have an important role to play in species management and recovery. SFI certification is really the foundation of our species at risk program.”
Molly Hudson, Director, Sustainability, Mosaic Forest Management
“SFI has provided a real thought leadership on many topics. It’s always evolving and improving and helps give our customers comfort. SFI positions us to be responsive in this regard.”
Mike Doss, President and CEO, Graphic Packaging
“We can only achieve our core purpose of sustaining nature to support life by connecting to all Americans, and to their natural resources. And we certainly need to do that, in part, through looking closely at racial and social equity.”
Vicki Christiansen, Chief, USDA Forest Service
“When you look at DEI, when you look at your hiring processes, it’s very important for you to know who is at the table, and what processes you have in place, but also what resources do you need in order to make sure employees feel like they belong to the organization.”
Mia Farrell, National MANRRS President and Assistant Dean and Director for Diversity, University of Kentucky
2021 SFI AWARD WINNERS

The SFI awards ceremony is a signature event at the annual conference. We were proud to give three awards to members of the SFI network who made particularly strong contributions to the forest sector over the last year.

The SFI Implementation Committee Achievement Award went to the Minnesota SFI Implementation Committee for successfully connecting the efforts of teachers and youth to Indigenous cultures and sustainability and for working with youth organizations to build bat-boxes that help battle white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that affects hibernating bats.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and West Fraser, an SFI‑certified company, were recognized with the SFI Leadership in Conservation Award for their innovative leadership in connecting sustainable forest management with Canada’s commitment to protected and conserved areas.

USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen won the SFI President’s Award for her longstanding leadership on myriad issues critical to the future of the forest sector including building a diverse workforce, educating youth, and enhancing biodiversity.

SPONSORS ARE KEY

We are so fortunate for the generous support of our sponsors. Our annual conferences would not be possible without them.

2022 SFI ANNUAL CONFERENCE

We would also like to thank all conference attendees for their enthusiasm and the time they invested in discussions. We encourage you to join us June 13-17, 2022, in Madison, Wisconsin. We look forward to seeing you there!

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