<p>WASHINGTON, <span class="xn-chron">May 20</span> /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) forest certification program announced its new Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant program today, furthering its long-standing commitment to research and bringing together diverse partners, including SFI Program Participants, conservation groups, and several government agencies, to deliver conservation benefits across <span class="xn-location">North America</span> and tackle illegal logging issues globally.</p>
<p>SFI Inc.'s initial commitment of <span class="xn-money">$675,000</span> to fund nine projects includes a contribution of <span class="xn-money">$307,500</span> in 2010 alone. SFI Inc. chose projects that met key criteria, which included, supporting requirements of the SFI 2010-2014 Standard, showing how SFI certification complements existing government initiatives in <span class="xn-location">North America</span>, and building partnerships which promote responsible forestry. Through the involvement of partners, the projects are expected to leverage additional resources and achieve a total value of <span class="xn-money">$2.7 million</span>.</p>
<p>"Key components of the SFI program are support for research and landowner outreach, and these requirements in our standard have already led to countless benefits in forests and communities across <span class="xn-location">North America</span>," SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow said today. "These projects are directly linked to standard requirements and will facilitate partnerships so even more benefits are gained on-the-ground - they will reach far beyond certified lands."</p>
<p>The projects announced today include partnerships with numerous SFI Program Participants and are led by:</p>
-- Bird Studies Canada, along with the Canadian Wildlife Service and
Regroupement QuébecOiseaux will work to conserve bird biodiversity
-- Clemson University will help South Carolina landowners adopt and
implement practices to improve wildlife habitat on managed forest
in partnership with local conservation organizations and government
-- Forest Trends will hold the fourth Potomac Forum on Illegal Logging &
Associated Trade, helping U.S. suppliers navigate legality in the
global supply chain.
-- South Coast Conservation Program, in partnership with nine First
Nations holding tenure in British Columbia, will help identify and
protect habitat and populations of forest-dependent species at risk
along British Columbia's Pacific Coast.
-- The American Chestnut Foundation will help restore the American
Chestnut, including test plantings of blight-resistant trees.
-- The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, working with
Natural Heritage Programs, will pilot a habitat-based approach to
protecting at-risk imperiled species and communities.
-- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with 11 state
and two Canadian provinces, will enhance the biodiversity of young
forest habitats, helping to reverse the declines of some 80 species at
-- The Ruffed Grouse Society will hold six Wisconsin Coverts workshops,
partnership with the University of Wisconsin's Extension and the
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology to help private landowners
the Great Lakes Region manage their land for wildlife.
-- World Resources Institute will create an online dynamic risk
tool to reduce illegal wood imports into the United States.
<p>Close to 200 million acres/80 million hectares are certified to the SFI forest management standard in <span class="xn-location">North America</span> - making it the largest single forest standard in the world. The SFI 2010-2014 Standard is based on 14 core principles that promote sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value. As well as helping program participants meet the SFI Standard's comprehensive requirements, the projects will build knowledge that will become part of future standards.</p>
<p>Since 1995, SFI-certified organizations have invested more than <span class="xn-money">$1.1 billion</span> US for research activities that improve the health, productivity and responsible management of forest resources. The program also responds to diverse local needs across the <span class="xn-location">United States</span> and <span class="xn-location">Canada</span> through a unique network of 37 SFI Implementation Committees.</p>
<p><span class="xn-person">Marvin Brown</span>, Chair of the SFI Board of Directors and Oregon State Forester, said the Conservation and Community Partnerships Grants complement the work of state and provincial agencies in the <span class="xn-location">United States</span> and <span class="xn-location">Canada</span>. "SFI certification already achieves more on the ground by going beyond legal requirements, and these collaborative projects will take this even further," he said. "It is building on the enthusiasm, creativity and knowledge of conservation groups and others who are keen to find ways to protect all forest values and advance forest management practices."</p>
<p>"This grant initiative demonstrates SFI's leadership - it harnesses the power of its many partnerships to build knowledge and raise understanding that enables all those concerned about responsible forest management and procurement to more effectively deal with emerging issues and opportunities," said <span class="xn-person">Dr. John A. Helms</span>, <span class="xn-person">Professor Emeritus</span> in Forestry at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the SFI External Review Panel. "This initiative is one more example of how the SFI program reaches beyond land certification and leads to ensuring that North American forests remain diverse, healthy, and productive."</p>
<p>Editors: Background information about the Community and Conservation Partnerships Grant program and initial 2010 projects is available at <a href="http://www.sfiprogram.org/forest-conservation/grant-program.php">http://www.sfiprogram.org/forest-conservation/grant-program.php</a>.</p>
About SFI Inc.
<p>SFI Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, and is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program (<a href="http://www.sfiprogram.org">www.sfiprogram.org</a>), that is internationally recognized and among the largest in the world. It is one of the fastest-growing forest certification programs with close to 200 million acres/80 million hectares of SFI-certified forests across <span class="xn-location">North America</span>. The SFI Standard also includes unique fiber sourcing requirements that promote responsible forest management on all suppliers' lands and a chain-of-custody certification, which can communicate to buyers how much certified fiber is in a specific product. The SFI forest standard is endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, a global umbrella organization that has strict requirements for endorsement. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally.</p>
For further information: For further information: Allison Welde, Director of Conservation Partnerships and Communications of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative(R) (SFI(R)), +1-202-596-3452, Allison.firstname.lastname@example.org