Avoiding supply chain risk by sourcing U.S. and Canadian forest products.

Kathy Abusow is President & CEO of SFI. She is committed to raising awareness that well managed forests provide products and benefits that help society at large. These forests store carbon, clean the air we breathe and the water we drink, provide habitat for many species, and produce products that improve our quality of life. Forests certified to SFI Standards span a quarter billion acres from Canada’s Boreal to the US South, and millions of additional acres are positively influenced by SFI Standards and programs for the responsible procurement of forest products. Her talk emphasizes how we need not only to hug the trees, but the forests as well.

Deforestation is significantly affecting the world’s forests. Forests still cover about a third of the world’s land area, but areas half the size of England are lost each year, according to National Geographic. At current rates of deforestation, the world’s rain forests could disappear in 100 years. Forest destruction produces as much as 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — more than from all the planes, trains and automobiles on Earth, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Deforestation occurs when forests are permanently converted to other land uses. This conversion means that the multiple values and environmental services produced by a forest, such as biodiversity, filtering water and sequestering carbon are lost forever. It’s important to ensure that, in our zeal to address the critical issue of forest loss, policies or metrics don’t confuse harvesting in well-managed forests with deforestation. This is particularly important when those managed forests are harvested under assurances of long-term sustainability.

“Zero Deforestation” policies can play an important role in promoting responsible management and therefore limiting deforestation. The proliferation of such policies, combined with the global attention toward deforestation through international frameworks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, are helping to elevate solutions and promote commitments to reduce deforestation. Credible forest certification programs like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) are an important element of these many policies, since fiber certified to SFI disallows the inclusion of wood sourced from areas being converted from forests to other land uses.



The most recent data available from the U.S. Forest Service show a continuing trend toward increases in forest area nationwide. A 2012 study showed the nation’s forests increased by roughly 7 million acres, or 1% between 2007 and 2012.

Canada’s 348 million hectares of forestlands represent about 9% of the world’s forest cover, but account for only 0.3% of global deforestation. The conversion of forest to agricultural land is decreasing but it remains the largest contributor to deforestation in Canada. The infinitesimal contribution the forest sector makes to deforestation is from building permanent logging access roads. Forest harvesting practices in Canada are tightly regulated to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important natural resource.


Taking action against illegal logging is a critical international need, given how illegal logging undermines forest governance, damages wildlife habitat, and reduces the potential for forests to provide stable supplies of products and support local communities.
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The global marketplace has become increasingly concerned with the need to avoid forest-based materials from regions of the world where there is a serious risk of illegal logging or deforestation. SFI Program Participants source 98% of their fiber from the United States and Canada where the threat of deforestation is not a risk. The other 2% comes from fiber that is certified to either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Despite the very low risk of illegal logging in the United States and Canada, the marketplace has increasingly demanded risk assessments across the entire supply chain. The SFI 2015-2019 Fiber Sourcing Standard requires Program Participants to assess the risk of illegal logging regardless of the country or region of origin, meaning that the same requirements that apply outside the United States and Canada, now also apply to sources within the United States and Canada. This is an assurance that will further facilitate compliance with corporate and government policies such as the U.S. Lacey Act and the European Union Timber Regulation. To assess the risk of illegal logging, Program Participants are encouraged to use tools such as the World Resources Institute Risk Information Tool, the World Bank Legal Rights Index, or Transparency International.

Buyers who source products certified to SFI can be confident that measures have been taken to avoid illegal fibre in the supply chain. SFI certification can be utilized as a tool to meet legality requirements.

The SFI Program recognizes the importance of addressing illegal logging through certification, regulation, and partner initiatives. SFI® Program Participants are responsible for more than one quarter of the global supply of certified forests and they sell into more than 140 countries around the globe.