The Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) is expanding sustainable forestry on private lands by encouraging their members to certify to the SFI Indigenous Peoples and Families Module. The EOMF Certification Program, administered by the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA), celebrated 20 years of certification in 2023 and is pleased to now offer the SFI module to its members.

This is the first group certification for the SFI module in Canada and the diverse membership of EOMF and OWA represents an important opportunity for growth in SFI certification. The new SFI certification will be officially announced at the 2024 OWA Conference in Barrie, Ontario, April 23-24.

Making group forest certification accessible to small landowners

The module is designed for landowners and forest managers in Canada who want a solution for group certification. The module offers the managers of small-scale forests, including those within the jurisdiction of Indigenous governments, local governments, and owners of small-scale private forests, the opportunity to participate individually or within a group certification organization. Group certification allows members to share the costs and benefits of certification, and in the case of EOMF, to reduce certification time and costs by over 50%.

Six Community Forests are already participating in the SFI module: Quinte Conservation, west of Kingston; South Nation Conservation, southeast of Ottawa; the United Counties of Stormont Dundas and Glengarry, surrounding Cornwall; Renfrew County, northwest of Ottawa; the City of Missisauga, west of Toronto; and Prescott and Russell (Larose Forest), east of Ottawa.

“We believe private landowners have a central role to play in ensuring that sustainably managed forests remain a part of Ontario’s future. Adopting SFI certification means that, collectively, we can continue to ensure the healthy future of our private forests,” said John Pineau, Executive Director of OWA and EOMF.

Expanding SFI certification on private lands underscores EOMF and OWA’s commitment to sustainable forest management and aligns with its mission to advocate for responsible forestry practices among private woodlot owners in Ontario. SFI certification is a rigorous forest certification program based on independent third-party audits that ensure the protection of important forest values and benefits for local communities.

Collaboration is key to expanding sustainable forestry

Membership in the SFI network, through the Central Canada SFI Implementation Committee, is another major benefit of SFI certification. Regional SFI Implementation Committees offer natural resources training and collaboration opportunities by working with local forestry and professional associations, universities, government agencies, landowner groups, conservation groups, and many others to broaden the practice of responsible forestry and manage their forests better.

“The common thread that links us together is our desire to manage our woodlots to the best of our abilities and SFI is an important tool to enact that desire. We are already engaged with the SFI committee and accessing the associated benefits such as training tools and networking. We are impressed with the offerings of the SFI community,” said Glen Prevost, Program Manager at OWA.

OWA comprises a strong network of 22 regional chapters governed by an elected executive committee and a volunteer board of directors. OWA members own and manage woodlots throughout the province and include individuals and organizations that support OWA values of ensuring private forests are sustainable and productive, ecologically healthy, diverse, and spiritually and physically renewing. In 2022, OWA and EOMF came together in a mutually beneficial union to share resources, staff, and strengths, while remaining distinct organizations.

An opportunity to support Ontario’s forests in all their diversity

EOMF will offer SFI a chance to collaborate with a province-wide not-for-profit grassroots organization responsible for a wide variety of forests. “Through EOMF, SFI certification will benefit a diverse range of private woodlots, ranging from a few hectares to tens of thousands, that are managed by some of the most dedicated landowners and competent forest professionals in the province,” Prevost said.

“We are thrilled that EOMF and OWA have taken such initiative and that our organizations have been able to collaborate to promote sustainable forest management, recognizing the importance of landowners and forest managers,” said Gregor Macintosh, SFI’s Senior Director of Standards. “By providing education, outreach, and certification programs, EOMF, OWA, and SFI empower these key stakeholders to implement practices that balance the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of forestry.”

“By working together, SFI, EOMF, and OWA are showing that responsible forestry practices can not only sustainably meet our needs for wood products, but also safeguard the health and diversity of our forests for generations to come,” Prevost said. “Forest certification can inspire individuals and organizations to embrace their role as stewards of the land and champions of conservation. Our certified landowners and managers are second to none and we are proud to prove that through SFI certification.”

SFI Indigenous Peoples and Families Module

This module offers forest owners and managers the opportunity to participate in a group certification and benefit from the economies of scale afforded by working with a group of forest owners and managers of forest licenses. Module requirements are scaled to align with the SFI 2022 Forest Management Standard.


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