Sustainable Forest Management: Incentive, Initiative, Necessity

Apr 29, 2019

By Jerry Schwartz

Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy 

Trees are the ultimate renewable resource: They can be planted, grown, harvested and replanted. While everything we consume has used valuable natural resources at some point in its lifecycle, not all are renewable and add value to the planet like trees do.

To preserve the incredible resource that trees and forests are, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) member companies have long supported and followed sustainable forestry practices—they are essential to our business model that depends on these resources into the future.

More than 20 years ago, our industry developed a sustainable forestry standard, which became the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®, now an independent non-profit organization), and AF&PA members agreed to adhere to a set of Sustainable Procurement Principles.

Today, our members use standards and methods developed and maintained by the SFI®, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFCTM).

To meet customer demand, as well as our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goal to promote sustainable forestry, our members are using their role in the supply chain as customers to increase the availability of certified fiber from certified fiber sourcing programs and third party-certified forestlands.

By 2016 (most recent data), they had increased the amount of wood fiber they procure from certified fiber sourcing programs to 99.1 percent and wood fiber procured from third-party certified forestlands to 23 percent.

Forest certification systems are a well-recognized tool to demonstrate sustainable forestry practices. Larger landowners tend to certify their land. Many small landowners often do not certify their land, but virtually all of them from whom our members purchase fiber indirectly participate in certified fiber sourcing programs that include best management plans and other tools that prove the wood our members purchase is coming from responsibly-managed sources that are harvested sustainably. 

By insisting that the wood fiber they procure is sustainably grown, harvested and replanted, our members are investing in the future of forests, ensuring they will be plentiful for future generations and supporting a sustainable business model 

When you use paper and wood products, you are investing in the future of forests too. 

To learn more about how paper helps forests, read our Earth Day blog and our Arbor Day blog.