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Pa. receives prestigious, independent certification for its forest system

Written by Holly Komonczi

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Deputy Secretary John Norbeck announced Pennsylvania’s state forest system, totaling more than 2.2 million acres, has received certification through one of the world’s most recognized, independent, third-party forest management certification standards, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Forest Management Standard.

“Entrusted with managing our incredibly diverse and valuable state forests, the Bureau of Forestry is justifiably proud of this prestigious honor,” Norbeck said. “This SFI certification is a stamp of excellence on the department’s people, programs, and initiatives, all charting a path for healthy woodlands of tomorrow.”

SFI’s 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard is based on principles, goals, and performance measures developed by professional foresters, conservationists, and others with the intention of promoting sustainable forest management in North America.

SFI and its many partners work together to balance environmental, economic, and social objectives such as conservation of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, forest products, protecting water quality, forest sector jobs, and recreation.

“Congratulations to DCNR on achieving certification. Certifying to SFI represents the agency’s commitment to being a sustainability leader by providing assurances of responsible practices across the forest products supply chain and collaborating on forest-based conservation,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI. “SFI and Pennsylvania share a commitment to the Department’s strategic initiatives including addressing climate change, forest conservation and jobs, green infrastructure and sustainability, outdoor recreation, water and youth engagement.”

Through the SFI Forest Partners® Program, DCNR joined other public agencies to seek cost-effective and efficient methods to implement and achieve independent SFI certification on its two largest state forests.

The SFI Forest Partners Program, which includes National Geographic, Macmillan Publishers, Hearst Enterprises and Boy Scouts of America makes multi-year commitments to increase certification throughout the forest supply chain.

“Our team takes great pride in our work to sustainably manage State Forest lands. Our SFI certification is a testament to the great work of bureau staff,” said Pennsylvania State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger. “Pennsylvania has a vibrant forestry industry and the state’s SFI-certified status demonstrates our commitment to responsible forest management.”

The SFI Forest Management Standard promotes sustainable forestry practices based on 13 principles, 15 objectives, 37 performance measures and 101 Indicators. These requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.

The same standard applies to any organization in the United States or Canada that owns or manages forestlands. These organizations must continually evaluate habitat and biodiversity impacts from forest activities — which leads to improved habitat quality, and protection of imperiled or critically imperiled species. The Forest Management Standard is also the only standard that requires participants to support forestry research.

The state forest system extends into 48 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. It offers water and air purification; recreation; aesthetic beauty; plant and animal habitat; economic benefits through provision of wood products; and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources. Pennsylvania is divided into 20 forest districts, responsible for protecting all forestland within their boundaries from fire, destructive insects and disease.

To learn more about the SFI program, visit SFIProgram.org or for more information on Pennsylvania’s state forest system visit www.dcnr.pa.gov.