FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2019
RICHMOND, VA — The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) announced the 2019 winner of the SFI President’s Award at the SFI Annual Conference today. The Yakama Nation is this year’s winner for their ongoing leadership in advancing sustainable forest management and their commitment to SFI.
“The Yakama Nation is a model of sustainability,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. “As an organization that respects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and believes our shared quality of life improves when forests are sustainably managed for current and future generations, SFI commends the Yakama Nation’s leadership in exemplifying comprehensive, culturally-grounded approaches to sustainable forest management. Contributing to SFI’s standard revision process, elevating the benefits of SFI certification through tours of their lands, and proudly displaying the SFI label are just some of the many ways that the Yakama Nation supports the success of the entire SFI Network and demonstrates its deep commitment to the shared values that allow for a strong link between SFI and Indigenous nations, like the Yakama Nation, across the U.S. and Canada. I’m extremely proud to recognize the Yakama Nation with the SFI President’s Award.”
The Yakama Nation manages over 632,000 acres/255,000 hectares of forestland certified to SFI in south-central Washington State. In 2010, they certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard and have shown leadership in each of the four pillars that support SFI’s work: standards, conservation, community, and education.
“By partnering with SFI, the Yakama Nation has credibility and proof that we truly are stewards of our land. And with continuing support from SFI we can continue to grow healthy ecosystems that will not only benefit the Yakama People but also be beneficial to all living things across the continent and beyond,” says Doug Olney, Timber Resource Manager at Yakama Forest Products.
The Yakama Nation continues to make an invaluable contribution to elevating the requirements SFI has in its standard relating to recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights. Representatives of the Yakama Nation were on hand at this year’s SFI Annual Conference to give input into the SFI standard revision workshop. Previously, they actively participated in the development of the 2015‑2019 SFI Forest Management Standard. Their participation has also helped bring an Indigenous perspective to the wider forest sector.
The Yakama Nation hosted the Intertribal Timber Council meeting of tribal representatives from across the U.S. and profiled their certification to the SFI Forest Management Standard and the advantages of using SFI labels on their lumber wrap to send a sustainability message to their customers.
The Yakama Nation champions the conservation values embedded in the SFI standards. Their lands provide critical habitat for fisheries, salmon, deer, and elk. The Yakama Nation also embraces the SFI requirement to collaborate on forest research projects. Along with their partners, including the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Forest Service, the Yakama Nation supported a forest management research project designed to avoid catastrophic fire.
Using trained harvesting professionals, a feature of the SFI standards, is another strength of the Yakama Nation. Yakama Forest Products requires all of its logging contractors to have at least one crew member with master logger accreditation on site at all times. They require their master logging professionals to maintain their certification through ongoing training.
“The Yakama Nation is also taking an active role in engaging, inspiring and mentoring its next generation of sustainable forestry leaders,” explained Paul Robitaille, SFI’s Manager of Indigenous and Youth Relations. “Yakama Forestry Professionals are involved with after school programs that take kids out into the forest to teach them about ecosystem health. Young leaders are encouraged to become land managers, grow through experiential learning under established professionals and assume greater responsibilities in service to the Nation. These efforts will ensure the Yakama Nation leaves a legacy of healthy forests into the next millennia, while supporting the growth and prosperity of the entire Nation.”