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FAQ: SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard Enhancements

Development of the SFI 2015-2019 Standards and Rules | Stakeholder Engagement and SFI Implementation Committees | A Low Risk Procurement Strategy Includes SFI | SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard Enhancements | SFI 2015-2019 Fiber Sourcing Standard Enhancements | SFI 2015-2019 Chain of Custody Standard Enhancements | Non-Timber Forest Products | FAQ Home

How does the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard ensure that long-term harvest rates are sustainable?
Performance Measure 1.1. Program Participants shall ensure that forest management plans include long-term harvest levels that are sustainable and consistent with appropriate growth-and-yield models.


  1. Forest management planning at a level appropriate to the size and scale of the operation, including:
  2. a review of non-timber issues (e.g., recreation, tourism, pilot projects and economic incentive programs to promote water protection, carbon storage, bioenergy feedstock production, or biological diversity conservation, or to address climate-induced ecosystem change).
  3. Documented current harvest trends fall within long-term sustainable levels identified in the forest management plan.
  4. A forest inventory system and a method to calculate growth and yield.
  5. Periodic updates of forest inventory and recalculation of planned harvests to account for changes in growth due to productivity increases or decreases, including but not limited to: improved data, long-term drought, fertilization, climate change, changes in forest land ownership and tenure, or forest health.
  6. Documentation of forest practices (e.g., planting, fertilization and thinning) consistent with assumptions in harvest plans.

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How does the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard address conversion of forest cover types?
To ensure that the forestlands of the United States and Canada represent a diversity of forest types, a new Performance Measure in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard (Performance Measure 1.2) prohibits conversion of one forest cover type to another forest cover type except in justified circumstances. Justified circumstances might include, for instance, diversification of species mix to avoid an emerging invasive pest or pathogen (i.e. Emerald Ash Borer) where the viability of a new stand would be jeopardized unless converted to a new mix of tree species.

Furthermore, even if there is a justified circumstance, SFI requires that an assessment be conducted to consider productivity and stand quality conditions. Impacts to be evaluated in connection with the SFI-mandated assessment include social and economic values. They also include ecosystem issues specific to the site, such as invasive species, insect or disease issues, and riparian protection needs. Other considerations include regeneration challenges, ecological impacts of the conversion, including a review at the site and landscape scale, and consideration of appropriate mitigation activities.
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How does the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard address conversion of forest land to non-forest land use?
A new performance measure in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard (Performance Measure 1.3) addresses the issue of conversion to “non-forest” uses, or “deforestation.” An SFI Program Participant shall not have within the scope of their certification to the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard forest lands that have been converted to non-forest land use. Additional information is provided in SFI Section 6 – Guidance part 3.2. Fiber derived from these excluded lands cannot be described as certified forest content in any product bearing a SFI program label.
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How does The SFI 2015-219 program address pesticide or chemical use in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard?
The approved use of chemicals in sustainable forest management plays a vital role in prompt and effective restocking of forest lands after harvest. The SFI Standard has long had requirements for minimizing chemical use and protection of water quality. Now two new indicators have been added to the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard that expand on the existing requirements for chemical use. Indicator 2.2.4 prohibits World Health Organization 1A and 1B pesticides, except where no other viable alternative is acceptable, and Indicator 2.2.5 bans pesticides under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. These new restrictions help align the SFI Forest Management Standard with the PEFC International endorsement requirements. For more information on these chemicals click here and here.
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What are the significant improvements in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard that address water quality?
Recognizing that healthy forests touch the lives of everyone, the SFI program has long called for the protection and enhancement of water quality. Independent studies have documented the benefits of consistent and effective implementation of water quality best management practices (BMPs).

Indeed, protection of water quality has been a core requirement of the SFI program since its inception and SFI Program Participants have invested in logger training programs reaching over 150,000 professionals since 1995. The SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard reaches even further, with requirements of Performance Measure 3.2 enhanced to require SFI Program Participants to implement water, wetlands, and riparian protection measures based on soil type, terrain, vegetation, ecological function, harvesting system, state BMPs, provincial guidelines and other applicable factors. Indicator 3.2.1 requires Program Participants to develop and fully implement additional measures to address management and protection of rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, other water bodies and riparian areas during all phases of forest management. Requirements for use of trained qualified logging professionals help ensure effective on-the-ground implementation of these water quality and riparian protection measures.
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What are the significant improvements in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard that address the conservation of biological diversity?
Maintaining biological diversity is critical to the maintenance of healthy forests and functional ecosystems both at the stand and landscape level. For many years, the SFI Standard has included numerous performance measures and indicators related to conservation of biodiversity at the stand and landscape level, protection of wildlife habitat and protection of rare, threatened and endangered species, particularly G1 and G2 species.

SFI made two significant changes in the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard related to landscape level conservation of biodiversity.

Another significant change in the SFI 2015-2019 Standard relates to increased protection of rare species. A new indicator (Indicator 4.1.5) requires Program Participants to develop a “program to address conservation of known sites with viable occurrences of significant species of concern.”

Finally, SFI has enhanced the guidance provided to Program Participants when determining whether or not a species is significant. A Program Participant may consider rarity, regional importance, and sensitivity to, or reliance upon, forest management activities. Resources for determining rarity may include Nature Serve G or S rankings, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and federal, provincial or state lists. Resources for determining regional importance may include The Nature Conservancy Eco-regional Plans, State Wildlife Action Plans or other credible conservation plans.
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How does the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard address protection of old growth forests?
The SFI Standard recognizes the unique values of rare old growth forest types and requires SFI Program Participants to protect old growth forests through support of and participation in plans or programs for the conservation of old-growth forests in the region of ownership or forest tenure - Performance Measure 4.2. This means SFI Program Participants need to actively support and participate in programs to ensure old growth forests are being conserved and they are audited on this requirement. A typical SFI plan may consist of mapping old growth forests as part of an environmental plan, and then developing measures to either manage those stands in a manner that takes into account their unique features under SFI’s Objective 6, or protect the stand under SFI’s Performance Measure 4.3, which identifies ecologically important sites for protection.
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What does the SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard require regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples?
Forests have always been central to the cultural beliefs and livelihoods of all indigenous peoples in the United and Canada. In the introduction to the SFI 2015-2019 Standards and Rules, SFI recognizes and adopts the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was officially endorsed by the Canadian and American governments in 2010. SFI Program Participants are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with local Aboriginal and Tribal groups in order to better understand their traditional practices and experiences with respect to forest management. In addition, on public lands there continues to be an emphasis on understanding and respecting traditional forest-related knowledge in relation to spiritually, historically or culturally important sites.

The SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard has added a new objective called “Recognize and Respect Indigenous Peoples Rights.” This new objective reflects existing SFI forest management requirements regarding respect for Aboriginal and Tribal rights and values on public lands but now has enhanced provisions for private lands.
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