Last week the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) released a new set of standards that will guide the organization’s certification practices through 2019. SFI claims that its standards include policies and guidelines that will help protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species and old-growth forests in the United States and Canada.
The new rules also promise everything from managing the “visual impact” of forests, respect for indigenous peoples’ rights, investment in forestry research and technology, and transparency. According to Lawrence Selzer, chair of the SFI’s board of directors, "The revised SFI standards will continue to serve as a proof point for responsible forestry in North America ... These standards are shaped by the people and communities who put them into practice every day."
This could be a new beginning for SFI, which has been dogged by allegations of deceptive marketing while working as a front for private companies. In recent years companies have shunned SFI while the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) continues to gain more traction in the industry. So, with these new directives, is SFI to be believed?
Not so fast, says one NGO.
Forest Ethics has released a report that compared forest audits in Canada over the past 10 years. The report claimed it assessed various criteria, including both organizations’ auditing teams, the audit processes and the level of transparency within their publicly issued reports.
The biggest overall difference, according to Forest Ethics, was the rigor SFI and FSC took towards evaluating their reports:
Just because FSC applies more rigor to its auditing process does not mean SFI is doing a poor or terrible job. But forest stewardship is more than counting trees — human rights and biodiversity are part of this equation, too, so it behoves SFI to rely less on public relations and invest more in its auditing.
Image credit: FSC
Based in California, Leon Kaye has also been featured in The Guardian, Clean Technica, Sustainable Brands, Earth911, Inhabitat, Architect Magazine and Wired.com. He shares his thoughts on his own site, GreenGoPost.com.