Yesterday I was out on an SAF field trip to Waldo Canyon..to look at the fire. Hope to get to share photos of that in the next few days. I would like to reiterate the question I posed in post II of this series…

Jay said:

In a state like WA or OR, you have to reforest after a regen harvest, but if you own 50,000+ acres and just cut 40% of your landbase over several years, how sustainable is that for local mills in the coming years (many now severed from a source of timber), ecological processes and organisms dependent on later seres or successional stages of forests? How is that sustainable for workers and communities when so many harvests were crammed into such a short period of time that labor/contractors had to be imported from outside of the community, only to leave when the cutting is done .

Now my read of any standard (SFI, CSA and FSC) is that cutting 40% of your landbase within several years would not meet the criteria. If we knew what company that was, maybe we could investigate how SFI treated it.

I am still curious and I think it might be interesting to run this one to ground.

Also, I tried to reply to Jason’s comment, but discovered that we had exhausted the number of comments. So here is his comment again and my reply.

Jason’s comment:

Superficially, SFI’s board mimics FSC’s 3 chamber system. From the SFI website:

“SFI Inc.’s 18-member multi-stakeholder Board of Directors comprises three chambers, representing environmental, economic and social interests equally… Board members include representatives of environmental, conservation, professional and academic groups, independent professional loggers, family forest owners, public officials, labor and the forest products industry”


But look who is on their BoD in the environmental sector: The Conservation Fund, Bird Studies Canada, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Ducks Unlimited Canada…not exactly a who’s who of the environmental community.

The social sector has two forestry academics, a state forester, a family forest owner and a guy from Habitat for Humanity Canada. Nothing wrong with that, but not notable for diversity or independence from the forest industry.

SFI appoints its directors from within. FSC’s BoD is elected in open elections by its membership — and membership in FSC is open to all. SFI has no membership.

Now to be fair, the conservation community has, by and large, spurned SFI, although there was a time when SFI tried reaching out to the major environmental groups to try to get them involved. Also, there was a period in the aughts when representatives from The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International served on the SFI BoD, which at that time was called the Sustainable Forestry Board or SFB. In the end, however, they left. I remember a key staffer from TNC saying that for a while they thought they could improve SFI from within sufficiently to justify their involvement, but that hope faded with time.

I think most of us hope that the forest certification wars won’t continue forever, and that at some point there will be some sort of rapprochement if not a merger. At the moment, though, that day seems a long way off.

I found Jason’s comment very interesting from a variety of perspectives. First of all, “the conservation groups listed are “not exactly a who’s who of the environmental community.””

1. Now, first of all, I think that we might all have our own roster of what environmental groups have the characteristics we prefer. It might be interesting for the folks on the blog to talk about their faves and why. There being a “who’s who” kind of implies that there is a generic feeling on the quality of environmental groups. I have read Bevington’s book on what some of the grassroots groups think of the big groups (not that the grassroots groups would like SFI any more than the bigs).

Now, I have been at the end of campaigns in which some of the groups said things which weren’t strictly speaking, true in my opinion. I acknowledge that culturally some groups throw things at an opponent, hoping some stick (that is how legal briefs are written). But do they really believe all the assertions? Do they go with the flow of their peers? Does the accuracy not matter in pursuit of “larger” goals?

As to the Sierra Club, I would be up for an open discussion with the public of certifying federal forests. I am not so much for behind the scenes working without giving the public the chance to talk about it ( a la NEPA-like process). If what I hear is true, of course.

2. It sounds as if some of the environmental groups may have withheld their support from SFI because they are aligned with FSC. I think we’re talking about chickens and eggs here. If these groups think they can do the best deal they can get with FSC, that’s fine. But then to say that it is a sign that SFI isn’t good enough because those groups don’t support it … SFI would have to allow even fewer things than FSC does, plus there would be even more drama.

3. I guess I am having a hard time with “The social sector has two forestry academics, a state forester, a family forest owner and a guy from Habitat for Humanity Canada. Nothing wrong with that, but not notable for diversity or independence from the forest industry.”

I guess I am having trouble with the idea that Habitat, forestry academics, and a state forester can’t be “diverse” or “independent from forest industry.” Jerry Franklin is a “forestry academic.” Most of the academics I know don’t get any money from the forest industry, so I don’t know what exactly you mean, unless it’s “growing up in an environment in which you know people who work for the forest industry.”

If I were TNC, I wouldn’t be on the SFI Board because the whole SFI vs. FSC thing generates more heat than light and TNC seems to be fairly good at prioritizing for practical conservation. Or the risks aren’t worth the rewards. Who knows? But it may or may not be based on any real problems with SFI as currently configured and managed.

One Comment

  1. FYI, here’s your chance to comment on the revision of the SFI standard. Post comments and get more info here:


    1st Public Comment Period Jun 5 – Aug 6, 2013
    2nd Public Comment Period Jan 13 – Mar 13, 2014

    Or attend a workshop:

    “New for the 2015-2019 Standard development process will be the inclusion of a workshop during the September 2013 Annual Conference as well as a workshop to be conducted in the Washington, DC area in November 2013. The second comment period will be supplemented by eight regional workshops, which will allow stakeholders to provide feedback on the draft SFI 2015-2019 Standard. These workshops will be facilitated by the Keystone Center and will include SFI Inc. staff.”

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