OTTAWA, O.N. — Criticism of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards from the environmental advocacy group ForestEthics comes after the release of SFI's updates following its normal 5-year review of emerging issues and new scientific findings.

ForestEthics released a report -- "Peeling Back the Eco-Labels" -- comparing the certification processes of SFI and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). According to ForestEthics, "the report found that the SFI certification program has serious flaws in comparison to FSC." Specifically, ForestEthics says that SFI certification is less rigorous and transparent than FSC.

Click here to read a copy of ForestEthics' study.

SFI certification standards were also recently questioned when Plum Creek Timber's logging practices came under fire by another advocacy group -- Center for Sustainable Economy, which filed a complaint challenging its SFI certification.

Upon release of SFI's new updates, SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow, in a statement, discussed the importance of credible, transparent and auditable standards. "The future of our forests depends on credible, transparent and auditable standards to enable sustainable resource use for today and generations to come," she noted. "Our work starts with the SFI standards, but SFI is so much more — it’s a community that stands together for the health and future of forests. SFI plays a central role in strengthening the vital link between healthy forests, responsible purchasing and sustainable communities.”

According to the agency, the most significant adjustment to its standards is a change to its ruling-making structure with the launch of SFI 2015-2019 Standards and Rules, which include the following three stand-alone standards:

  • Forest management -requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value
  • Fibre sourcing - requirements include measures to broaden the conservation of biodiversity, use forestry best management practices to protect water quality, provide outreach to landowners and utilize the services of forest management and harvesting professionals
  • Chain of custody - tracks the percentage of fibre from certified forests, certified sourcing and recycled content through production and manufacturing to the end product

SFI, started by the timber industry in 1994, is responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally-recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program encompassing more than a quarter billion acres/100 million hectares in the U.S. and Canada. FSC was launched by environmentalists in 1993 and covers more than 207 billion FSC certified acres in the U.S. and Canada.

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