The Boy Scouts of America has joined with the industry certification group Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., in an effort that could see more SFI stakeholders volunteering to help scouts earn merit badges related to forestry and environmental science.
The two organizations will partner up to "show scouts the value of our natural environment and how the future of our forests depends on the actions we take today," according to a statement by Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America.
Among other things, the new partnership means that Scouts across the country will probably start checking the boxes of their pinewood derby kits for SFI certification - and it could mean some pushback from a rival certification group, the Forest Stewardship Council.
SFI, Boy Scouts and Boy's Life
SFI already has a working relationship with the Scouts, which has brought its official publication Boy's Life under SFI certification.
According to the Scouts, Boy's Life actually goes farther than SFI requirements through its printing partner, Quad/Graphics. Somewhat ironically, that company is FSC-certified. Quad/Graphics also uses EnviroTech-labeled inks and it was the first printer to join the EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership.
SFI versus FSC
Unfortunately, the relationship between the Scouts and SFI is clouded by a long-running controversy over SFI's credibility. Things have heated up this spring and a number of companies have recently announced that they will no longer seek SFI certification. The U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the LEED (Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design) program, includes FSC on its roster but so far has refused to include SFI.
In April the CEO of SFI, Kathy Abusow, issued an open letter to the Green Building Council decrying the decision and listing ten reasons why SFI should be recognized.
Scouts and conservation
Though none of Abusow's points directly address how SFI standards match up against FSC standards, she does make the argument that SFI certification is a step in the right direction, and that recent investments in research and forestry programs have lead to improvements by SFI participants.
In that context, regardless of any other issues the partnership between the Scouts and SFI will at least help to bring more young people in contact with the broader sustainability goals behind modern commercial forest management -- and that's a good thing, right?
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Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.