Private family forest owners in the United States share a unique commitment to protect wildlife habitat and watersheds, to conserve soil, and to provide recreation for their communities while producing wood. Since 1941, the American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), has educated and recognized the commitment of these small landowners. The SFI program collaborates with ATFS to increase forest certification on family forest lands.
ATFS has a forest certification standard that applies to small landowners in the United States. It requires that private forest landowners develop a management plan based on strict environmental standards and pass an inspection by an ATFS inspecting forester. Third-party certification audits, conducted by firms accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) or the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), are required for all certification programs of the ATFS. In 2009, ATFS had certified more than 25 million acres of privately owned forestland managed by over 90,000 family forest landowners who are committed to excellence in forest stewardship.
ATFS is endorsed by the Programme for the Certification of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC). The SFI program recognizes fiber from any standard operating in North America that endorsed by PEFC, which means fiber from ATFS-certified forests can be counted as certified content for SFI label use. ATFS has an Online Verification Database Tool so companies can verify wood from ATFS-certified lands.
The largest private forest conservation program in the history of the United States, ATFS reinforces its commitment to forest conservation through continuing education opportunities and outreach activities. Family forest landowners own nearly two-thirds of U.S. forestlands, and 60 percent of all the wood harvested in the country comes from family forestlands.
ATFS is a program of the American Forest Foundation's Center for Family Forests. The foundation is a non-profit 501(C)(3) conservation and education organization that strives to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations.