The SFI Annual Conference always brings together thought leaders and influencers, including forest sector representatives, conservation and community partners, and Indigenous leaders as well as some of the most engaged forest product customers in North America. The 2018 conference, Oct. 16-18 at Westminster, Colorado, focused on an important theme: When it comes to providing supply chain assurances, producing conservation outcomes, and supporting education and community engagement – Forests are the Answer.
“One of the accomplishments for SFI that stood out for me is that the program has grown to 320 million acres in the U.S. and Canada,” said Pat Sirois, Maine SIC coordinator. “That’s an additional 40 million in the last year. At the conference, we heard the term “scale” used often in relation to what can be accomplished with 320 million acres for a variety of issues from threatened habitats to climate change. Those discussions brought interests from all over North America, Europe and Scandinavia. You got the sense that opportunities for the SFI seem limitless.”
Delivering the keynote address was Dan Lambe, president, Arbor Day Foundation, who highlighted the creative and thoughtful pathways the Arbor Day Foundation and SFI are pursuing. Vicki Christiansen, newly appointed chief of the U.S. Forest Service participated in the “Inspiring Women Leaders in Sustainability” panel, which also included Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Dana Collins, Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Forestry; Lisa Allen, State Forester, Missouri Department of Conservation, and Laura Schweitzer, Executive Director, Council of Western State Foresters/Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. The panel also discussed responsible forest management and forest health.
Also at the conference, four awards were announced that that recognize leadership in diversity, conservation, innovation, and community engagement.
This year’s winner of the SFI Implementation Committee Achievement Award (which SIC Maine won last year for the fourth time) went to the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee which was selected for its ability to build strong partnerships in ways that improve sustainable forestry and promote the SFI Program.
“SFI Implementation Committees do such good work and to be recognized among our peers is really special. The whole South Carolina committee deserves credit because recognition like this always comes down to excellent teamwork,” said Bart Copeland, Chair of the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee and the Manager of Procurement and Certification Standards at Collum’s Lumber Products.
The South Carolina committee is working with Clemson University to launch a new Center for Excellence in Forestry Research. The committee is also fully supporting a visiting scholar fellowship in applied forestry. They are collaborating with the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation to create a cadre of landowner leaders to encourage resolution of heirs’ property issues. On the youth education front, the committee has joined multiple partners to develop a sustainable forestry exhibit at a nature center and the committee is also building on its partnership with South Carolina Tree Farm and Project Learning Tree, an initiative of SFI. Read more.
- The SFI President’s Award went to Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and an SFI board member, who was recognized for “her commitment to encouraging diversity in the forest sector and for her leadership in advancing sustainable forestry. As a senior executive, Ring inspires other women to take on leadership roles. She is well known for promoting diversity in the forest sector. Through the National Association of State Foresters and SFI, Ring has championed women for years.” Read more.
- The SFI Leadership in Conservation Award went to Brian J. Kernohan, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Policy at Hancock Natural Resource Group (HNRG), in recognition of his “strong leadership and collaboration skills can be seen in several research projects that are part of the SFI Conservation Impact Project and for his role on the SFI Conservation Impact Sounding Board. Read more.
- The Dr. Sharon Haines Memorial Award for Innovation and Leadership in Sustainability went to Jay Jensen, Director, Southern Regional Office, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) because he “embodies the collaborative and innovative spirit that Sharon brought to her life’s work. Throughout his career, Jay has been known for working in close cooperation with outside stakeholders to foster relationships built to achieve sustainability goals.” Read more.