SFI Embarks on New Standards Climate Smart Forestry and Biodiversity in Fiber Sourcing

In 2022 the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Certification requires companies to comply with some new standards. Within the SFI Forest Management Standard, these include a new objective on Climate Smart Forestry. The SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard, a new objective on Biodiversity in Fiber Sourcing, is now required. Companies that have adopted SFI Certification must comply with these by the end of 2022, a rapid change. Compliance to meet these new objectives requires having criteria and indicators that can be verified by the independent auditors that monitor compliance with the SFI Standards.

The West Virginia SFI State Implementation Committee (SIC) has been working with other SFI SIC’s across the country and Canada to develop an approach to comply with these new standards.

Climate Smart Forestry:
West Virginia sits with the Central Appalachian forest, lending towards a regional approach to be useful for a land owner attempting to understand changes in the landscape that forest managers will need to adapt to continue to manage sustainably. SFI has worked with the State Implementation Committees (SIC) across the country to comply this new objective and provide some guidance for managers. The Northeast and the Southeast SICs have been working with the USDA Climate Hub to understand the scope and nature of climate changes and have developed reports that help forest managers understand the various adaptations that should be considered in order to meet the new objective. The reports include a suite of forest practices that can assist a forest manager to adapt to the changing climate. These include basic infrastructure changes for controlling higher intensity and duration of rainfall, along with biological changes as forests have higher temperatures. These reports are available by sending a request to wvfa@wvfa.org.

Biodiversity in Fiber Sourcing:
This new objective requires companies certified under the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard to address understanding the presence of globally important flora and fauna. West Virginia has 142 species that meet this requirement. However, not all 142 species are present where forest management will have an impact. The West Virginia SIC is teaming up with the WV Department of Natural Resources to work through this list and identify the habitats and species most likely impacted by forest management. This group of experts will also recommend practices to further protect these species and their habitats. The final product will be a suite of communications to foresters, loggers, and landowners where companies certified to the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard operate and harvest. This endeavor is expected to be completed in early 2023, in time for verification by independent auditors.