Devising New Ways to Measure Biodiversity Across Millions of Acres
Measuring the Conservation Value of Forests Certified to SFI in Bi-national Pilot Areas of the U.S. and Canada
Why this project matters
The conservation value of managed forests can be poorly understood and is often negatively perceived by people outside the forest sector. Even for experts working within the forest sector, the ability to quantify and express the conservation values associated with managed forests is challenging. This project is building on previous work by taking several major steps towards quantifying conservation values at a large spatial and ecological scale.
Based on work already completed by NatureServe in the continental U.S., it will implement proposed metrics of biodiversity and conservation value and modify those metrics where needed. This work directly responds to the goal of quantifying the contribution of forests certified to SFI toward the attainment of broadly accepted conservation goals in landscapes of conservation interest.
How the project helps break new ground in measuring conservation
The SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program is supporting this project. NatureServe is collaborating with project partners to produce a metrics-based evaluation of the conservation value of lands certified to SFI that straddle the New Brunswick–Maine border. A major objective of this project is to develop metrics that can be scaled up more broadly and potentially be used by any SFI Program Participant throughout the vast SFI footprint, which covers 305 million acres/124 million hectares.
Eight current metrics have been developed for three U.S. pilot areas, divided among themes of species, ecosystem, and landscape conservation. By extending these metrics to a new bi-national forest ecosystem, we will have sufficient pilot metrics to appeal to any SFI Program Participant, anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Since the geographic scope of this project is specifically designed around attaining 100% inclusion of lands certified to SFI in the project analysis footprint, another outcome will be the first comprehensive assessment of SFI contributions to conservation values across a given region.
This NatureServe project represents the latest in an ongoing effort to develop strong partnerships across Canada and the U.S. to enhance conservation. Working with NatureServe will allow SFI Program Participants to scale up work to a national level, and ultimately inform continental conservation of some species. This will complement the work of a range of SFI partners in establishing and enhancing the conservation value of lands certified to SFI.
The project is also directly supported by Resource Management Service, Hancock Natural Resource Group, and J.D. Irving. These SFI Program Participants will provide in‑kind data support to help NatureServe in characterizing the conservation values of their certified land base. These partners will also contribute data, expertise, and analysis coordination.
How the project helps forest managers
This project will allow the application of existing conservation value metrics to all lands certified to SFI within an analysis area, so land managers can report, for the first time, the collective SFI conservation impact in a given area. Reporting products will include metrics definition, development, application, results, interpretation, and testing and refinement for expansion into new geographies and new forest ecosystems, emphasizing replicability and transferability. Visually intuitive maps and metric report cards will contribute important outreach materials for communicating project results and inspiring other SFI Program Participants to pursue metrics development for their managed forest lands.
This partnership includes conservationists, researchers, and SFI Program Participants.
- Project lead: NatureServe
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Boreal Avian Modeling Project
- American Bird Conservancy
- National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI)
- Resource Management Service (SFI Program Participant)
- Hancock Natural Resource Group (SFI Program Participant)
- J.D. Irving (SFI Program Participant)
- Quantifying Ecological Values Delivered by Forests Certified to SFI and SFI Fiber Sourcing — The Conservation Values of Forests Project, led by NatureServe
- An overview of the SFI Conservation Impact Project and how it focuses on carbon, water and biodiversity
- A media release about the launch of the SFI Conservation Impact Project
- NatureServe was a partner on a previous SFI-funded project with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement: Piloting a Habitat-Based Approach to At-risk Biodiversity Conservation on Lands Certified to SFI