When the SFI program was first conceptualized in 1994, few could have imagined the explosive growth the program would see in its first decade. Originally designed as a code of conduct for the forest products industry in the United States, the SFI program has become one of the world’s largest sustainable forestry and certification programs.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA;) establishes a committee charged with developing a program to “visibly improve industrial forest practices and report results. October 14, 1994 the AF&PA; Board of Directors adopts “Sustainable Forestry Initiative Principles and Implementation Guidelines.”
AF&PA; members begin implementation of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Principles and Implementation Guidelines. AF&PA; Board establishes the Expert Review panel (ERP-later renamed the External Review Panel), an organization of ndependent experts to advise the SFI program. First biannual meeting of SFI National Forum – a stakeholder group of diverse forestry-related interests including loggers and family forest owners.
SFI program becomes mandatory for all AF&PA; members. AF&PA; member company CEO’s are required to report annually on their compliance with the SFI program. 15 companies expelled from AF&PA; for failure to meet SFI program requirements. First SFI Annual Conference held in Pittsburgh, PA. The SFI program was recognized as a significant development in private sector efforts to improve the environment by President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development in 1996.
ERP becomes an independent organization with its own charter and begins selecting its own members. The SFI program was awarded the Business Conservation Leadership Award from National Association of Conservation Districts
International Paper and The Conservation Fund join with AF&PA; to convene a workshop on “Wildlife and Biodiversity” in order to develop ideas to improve the program. The “SFI guidelines” are expanded into a “standard”, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard (SFIS), complete with procedures for verification and third-party certification. The SFI licensing program is initiated, allowing non- AF&PA; members to enroll their forestland and forestry operations in the SFI program. The Conservation Fund is the first SFI program licensee and St. Louis County, MN becomes the first public land agency to enroll their forestlands in the SFI licensing program. The SFI program receives a Summit Award from American Society of Association Executives’ Advance America Awards Program.
Westvaco Corporation and The Conservation Fund join AF&PA; to convene a workshop to develop new ideas for managing sites of special historical, ecological or cultural significance under the SFIS. The ERP establishes the “Forest Monitoring Project” to monitor SFI program implementation which will include more than 50 random field reviews of SFI program participants over the next 3 years. The AF&PA; Board approves new enhancements to the SFI Standard including performance measures for carbon sequestration, genetically modified seedlings, recreation and training for employees and contractors. Massachusetts becomes the first state to enroll their forestlands in the SFI licensing program. The SFI program receives a National Award for Sustainability in Forests and Rangeland from Renew America and the President’s Council for Sustainable Development.
The American Forest Foundation (AFF) and AF&PA; sign a mutual recognition agreement, bringing together the SFI program and the American Tree Farm System®. The Sustainable Forestry Board is established to oversee the SFI Standard. Of the 15 SFB members, 60 percent are from diverse stakeholder groups and 40 percent from SFI program participant companies. SFI program expanded into Canada. The Conservation Fund, Champion International and AF&PA; convene another SFI program workshop to develop new ideas to improve the verification and certification process. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation publishes a report showing thousands of special sites are being protected under the SFI program. A total of 50,000 loggers trained in SFI program principles since 1995. The National Wild Turkey Federation recognized the SFI program with their Land Stewardship Award.
SFB adopts new bylaws to establish SFB as an independent, not-for-profit organization. SFB launches a public review of the SFIS and establishes a task force to study “Forests of Exceptional Conservation Value.” SFB creates customer and auditors forums. SFI program enrollment surpasses 100 million acres in the U.S. and Canada. The Weyerhaeuser Company and The Conservation Fund joined with AF&PA; to sponsor the second SFI Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity workshop, as participants continued to call for ideas to improve the clarity and guidance on these topics.
SFB chartered as an independent 501(c)(3) corporation with new membership composition with equal representation (one-third each) from conservation and environmental organizations, the broader forestry community and SFI program participants. SFB announces extensive enhancements to the SFIS, releasing the 2002-2004 SFIS that includes additions to protect forests of exceptional conservation value, help prevent illegal logging and promote the conservation of biodiversity hotspots and major tropical wilderness areas. AF&PA; creates SFI labeling program. The SFI program is recognized by United Nations at World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa with ICC-UNEP World Summit Business Award for Sustainable Development Partnerships.
SFB establishes Certification Appeals Subcommittee to review any questions regarding the validity of SFIS certifications. SFB establishes an auditor review process, including hiring a firm to conduct field peer reviews of each auditor that conducts SFIS certifications. SFB also establishes a task force to review sustainable forestry practices on “family forests” and announces new interpretations for the further application of the SFIS in Canada. AF&PA; begins business to business advertising program to increase awareness of SFI program among SFI program participants’ major customers. The SFI program receives an International Mobius Award for “Forest Art” TV ads and receives the first of two Excellence in Advertising Awards from the American Institute of Architects. Louisiana Pacific, The Conservation Fund, and The American Tree Farm System joined with AF&PA; to sponsor a workshop that explored how the SFI program could become more effective in promoting forest stewardship on family forests.
The SFB conducts a year long public review of the SFIS in advance of the release of the 2005-2009 SFIS with regional workshops and a public comment period. SFB elects Lawrence Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund, to be new SFB Chairman, the first member of a conservation organization elected to lead the SFB. Acres independently, third-party certified to the SFIS surpass 100 million. The SFI program is again recognized by the American Institute of Architects with their second Excellence in Advertising Award.
SFB adopts 2005-2009 SFIS on January 10, 2005. The new standard is significantly enhanced with new provisions on old growth, international procurement, invasive exotic species, imperiled and critically imperiled species, landscape assessments, wood supply chain monitoring, and social issues to name a few.
The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) endorses the SFI standard and names the SFI program the United States’ PEFC Governing Body. In July, the Sustainable Forestry Board announced that the SFI program would become fully independent in January 2007. Under the plan a new entity, The Sus¬tainable Forestry Initiative, Incorporated will be creat¬ed to govern all aspects of the SFI program.
On January 1, 2007, a new, fully independent organization, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc. was created to direct all elements of the SFI® program.