Based on my experience as a professional biologist, board member of an independent watchdog on forest practices, and a sustainability professional, I can assure you that SFI is a respected, solution-focused, nonprofit NGO and standards organization with an independent board equally representing social, environmental and economic stakeholders. SFI is a collaborative advocate for sustainable, forest-based supply chains. Their robust standard is the primary tool used by independent auditors to ensure that North American supply chains source fiber responsibly and in accordance with objectives and practice requirements to protect, conserve and advance social and environmental values.
Contrary to Meador’s understanding, independent auditors certify forest practices; not standards bodies such as SFI – and they have certified more than 250 million acres and more aboriginal lands to the SFI Standard than any other. In doing so, auditors use the mandatory practice requirements of certification standards to serve the public good by: (1) protecting buyers from sourcing illegally harvested fiber; (2) ensuring compliance to a set of objectives and practice requirements for responsible forest management; and, (3) bolstered by their independence, send a market signal indicating a legal and responsible supply of forest products.
Lastly, I am confident that 3M and the other companies noted in the article continue to source products certified to the SFI Standard; and, we should applaud them for doing so because it is this responsible procurement that encourages landowners to earn a living from forestry rather than converting forests to crops, grazing or urban development.
Tyler J. Elm, Bentonville, Arkansas