Urban and community forests provide many social and environmental benefitsOttawa, ON and Washington, D.C.—The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) is pleased to announce the launch of a partnership to develop a new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard for application in North America and potentially globally. SFI will collaborate with five urban forestry leaders: American Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Society of Municipal Arborists, and Tree Canada.

“The SFI network is looking forward to collaborating with our urban forestry partners to promote the establishment of sustainable urban and community forests that meet local needs, while meaningfully contributing to national, bi-national, and global initiatives such as the 2 Billion Tree initiative in Canada or through regional and global initiatives such as the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org,” says Kathy Abusow, SFI’s President and CEO. “Together, with these leaders, I’m confident SFI will positively contribute to urban forestry initiatives across North America and globally.”

Urban and community forestry involves both planning and management of the urban forest because the right tree, planted in the right place, in the right way, promotes the many benefits trees provide for people, wildlife, and climate. Community trees and forests provide many social and environmental benefits including, improved health and well-being, social cohesion and accessibility, outdoor learning environments, climate change solutions, reduced air pollution, and improved urban design.

SFI’s commitment to developing an urban and community forestry standard goes beyond the launch of this new partnership, it is also embodied in the decision to create a new staff position: Director of Urban and Community Forestry. Paul Johnson assumed this new role on March 15. Johnson brings over 20 years of urban and community forestry experience and deep connections to an international network of partners to his new role. As Paul always says, “Trees are key to healthier, happier, safer communities.”

SFI, along with our partners, will set up a task group composed of leading experts to develop the new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard. The partnership and task group will explore opportunities to seek remedies for the climate crisis and other serious challenges that urban forests are ideally positioned to help address, including access to public spaces, social cohesion and more. Please reach out to Paul Johnson, Director of Urban and Community Forestry, if you are interested in serving on the task group.

What our urban forest partners are saying about the potential benefits of an urban and community forestry standard:

“Urban forests are not just scenery—they are life-or-death infrastructure for our cities in a changing climate. We must achieve Tree Equity our cities so that everyone has the vital benefits of trees for health, climate resilience, and economic vitality. We need all strategies employed to make this happen, including urban wood utilization, which can help address systemic economic barriers to urban forest management. We are thrilled to have the SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard as a new tool for the urban forest movement, and to see Paul Johnson named as an ideal leader for SFI’s urban efforts,” says Jad Daley, President and CEO, American Forests.
Arbor Day Foundation logo
“We, at Arbor Day Foundation, are happy to welcome the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, one of our long-term partners, into the field of urban and community forestry. We see their efforts and this partnership as a prime vehicle to continue to advance our collective efforts across North America and the world. Now is the time for trees and now is the time for an urban and community forestry standard. We’re pleased to work with Paul Johnson in his new role as Director of Urban and Community Forestry at SFI. We’ve worked with Paul, in his previous roles, through our Tree City USA and Community Tree Recovery programs as well as our Partners in Community Forestry Conference. Paul will be an asset in this effort to enhance the sustainability and perception of urban and community forestry,”  says Dan Lambe, President, Arbor Day.
ISA logo
“The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is delighted that Paul Johnson has been appointed as Director of Urban Forestry for SFI. Paul recently served as our board president, so I know first-hand his passion for urban forestry and arboriculture, as well as his commitment to collaboration. For nearly 100 years, ISA has promoted the importance of trees and their care by arborists, and we are pleased to partner with SFI to continue to advance urban forestry globally. Exploring an urban forest standard with organizations committed to increasing the sustainability and health of our urban forest resource is work that ISA is looking forward to undertaking on behalf of our members and credential holders,” says Caitlyn Pollihan, CEO and Executive Director, International Society of Arboriculture.
Society of Municipal Arborists logo
“Since 1964, SMA has been working to build the confidence, competence, and camaraderie of the professionals who manage municipal trees and forests in order to create and sustain more livable communities. We are excited to join this partnership to develop an urban and community forestry standard for North America and potentially the world. We recognize that having a standard of this sort will be critical to meeting the challenges facing our industry in the years to come. We believe this standard can nicely complement SMA’s municipal accreditation program. We’re especially pleased to have Paul Johnson leading the effort on SFI’s behalf, as Paul is one of our Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) alumni and has long been a leading figure in the world of urban forestry,” says Jerri LaHaie,
Executive Director, Society of Municipal Arborists.
Tree Canada logo
“At Tree Canada we believe that the well-being and prosperity of our communities depend on the long-term sustainability, diversity and health of our urban forests. With increased pressures placed on them worldwide, their presence in our communities will only continue to become more critical as we become increasingly urbanized ourselves. We are pleased to see the launch of the new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard, along with the hiring of Paul Johnson as their new Director of Urban and Community Forestry, showing SFI’s commitment and dedication to the continued sustainability of our urban forests. We look forward to working together on this important cause,” says Danielle St-Aubin, CEO, Tree Canada.
Urban and community forests help address sustainability challenges


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The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) advances sustainability through forest-focused collaborations. We are an independent, nonprofit organization that leverages four interconnected pillars of work: standards, conservation, community, and education. SFI works with the forest sector, conservation groups, academics, researchers, brand owners, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and governments. Collaborating with our network, we leverage SFI-certified forests and products as powerful tools to help solve sustainability challenges such as climate action, conservation of biodiversity, education of future generations, and sustainable economic development.

Christine Leduc
VP, Communications and Government Relations
Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Paul Johnson
Director of Urban and Community Forestry
Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Founded in 1972—the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance—the Arbor Day Foundation is the largest 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. More than 1 million members, supporters, and valued partners have helped us plant more than 350 million trees in neighborhoods, communities, cities, and forests throughout the world to ensure a greener and healthier future for everyone. Our vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, a changing climate, deforestation, poverty, and hunger. The impact we make on our world is accomplished through our conservation and education programs. We work to restore forests, improve tree cover in communities, and inspire the next generation of tree planters to ensure this important work endures. Learn more: arborday.org.

We are the only national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments. Through our programs, research, and educational efforts, we have helped restore tree cover in areas hit by natural disasters, guided communities in managing their urban forests, helped green 700 schoolyards, and organized urban forest conferences. To date, with our community partners and sponsors, we have planted more than 83 million trees. Learn more: treecanada.ca.

American Forests is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the United States. Since our founding in 1875, we have been the pathfinders for creating healthy forests from coast to coast. In the early 1900s, for example, we rallied forest advocates to champion creation of the U.S. Forest Service. In 2018, we won a decade-long campaign persuading Congress to provide stable funding for preventing and fighting forest fires. Now we are focused on building a reforestation movement in America, from cities to large, rural landscapes. We all rely on forests to survive and thrive, given the power they have to filter our air and water, provide jobs, mitigate climate change and more. But our forests are being degraded and destroyed at a rapid pace and large scale. If we take care of our forests, they will take care of us. Learn more: americanforests.org.

Through research, technology, and education, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) promotes the professional practice of arboriculture and fosters a greater worldwide awareness of the benefits of trees. This is our passion and serves as our mission statement. ISA exists so that professionals, allied professionals, public officials, and consumers worldwide recognize the economic, environmental, and societal benefits and values of trees and their care at a cost that demonstrates the wise stewardship of resources. Learn more: isa-arbor.com.

Founded in 1964, the SMA is an organization of municipal arborists and urban foresters. Our membership also includes consultants, commercial firms, nonprofits, tree boards, tree wardens, allied professionals, and citizens who actively practice or support some facet of municipal forestry. A professional affiliate of the International Society of Arboriculture, the SMA has members from across North America and beyond. Through our magazine, City Trees, our conferences, our website and our many active members, we strive to create networking and educational opportunities that promote the sound, professional management of a vital and invaluable resource. Learn more: urban-forestry.com.