OTTAWA, Ontario. - The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) has announced that Obishikokaang Resources Corporation (ORC) has certified more than one million hectares of the Lac Seul Forest in Northern Ontario to the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard.
ORC was established in 2012 by Chief and Council to manage the Lac Seul Forest and to provide economic development opportunities for the oldest Reserve in the Sioux Lookout District, Lac Seul First Nation, also known as Obishikokaang. It works to maximize economic development opportunities associated with managing the Lac Seul Forest, build capacity within the community, and meet and exceed forest management obligations as outlined in the corporation's management plan.
"Lac Seul and the surrounding forest have always provided for the economic and cultural well-being of the people of Obishikokaang. Certifying to SFI is part of our commitment to the kind of sustainable business practices that are designed to protect the environment and support economic growth," said Clifford Bull, chief of Lac Seul First Nation. "Band members are working as part of the management teams, supervising harvesting, and playing an important role in forest regeneration."
While ORC adopted the SFI Standard because of its ability to promote sustainable forest management by protecting water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and species at risk, one of the key factors in the decision was enhancing the economic sustainability of the community by opening new markets.
"Certifying a forest to SFI is an important way for Indigenous communities to assure their markets and the general public that the forestry they practice is sustainable," said SFI Board member, David Walkem, chief of the Cooks Ferry Band and president of Stuwix Resources Joint Venture. "It also helps Indigenous communities ensure our values and economic priorities are reflected in the management of those forests,"
With ORC being the second SFI certificate holder in Ontario, 28 Indigenous and tribal groups across Canada and the U.S. manage more than seven million acres of forest land certified to SFI.
Deepening its partnerships with Indigenous people in Canada and the U.S., SFI and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business have a Memorandum of Understanding to support the Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification program which promotes corporate social responsibility and Indigenous business and employment opportunities, especially for youth in forest communities.
To date, SFI has awarded nine grants across the U.S. and Canada to support and protect Indigenous values and is also involved in a variety of other projects with Indigenous partners
"We are extremely pleased to welcome [ORC] to the SFI community. Indigenous values are reflected throughout our organization including in our governance structure, our grants program, and our partnerships," said Andrew de Vries, vice president of conservation and Indigenous relations at SFI. "And having Indigenous land managers choose to certify to the SFI Forest Management Standard ensures that the Indigenous communities and forests they manage are always front and centre."
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting forest sustainability through grant programs, carefully targeted research, youth education, supply chain assurances, and partnerships that effectively contribute to multiple conservation objectives. SFI stands for future forests and is governed by an independent three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social, and economic sectors equally. Forests certified to the SFI forest management standard cover 285 million acres while millions more benefit from the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard.
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