Albuquerque, NM—The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is delighted to launch its New SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard and recognize the contributions of its partners in the standard development process during the International Society of Arboriculture 2023 Annual International Conference.
“This marks a new and important chapter in SFI’s mission to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration. Finally, a standard exists for urban and community forests, and we have an opportunity to make a difference for millions of people across North America, and potentially globally. I’m so proud to be at the ISA International Conference to celebrate the new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard and thank all our partners for their contributions to get us to this point,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO, SFI.
More than two years ago, SFI and its partners – American Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Society of Municipal Arborists, and Tree Canada, saw a need and an opportunity to provide leadership in urban and community forestry and raise the profile of their importance as green infrastructure and nature-based solutions to human health, disparity, and environmental sustainability. The new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard will contribute to the resiliency and sustainability of communities, large and small, using trees and forests as natural solutions to improve community health and address the challenge of climate change.
‘‘As the global credentialing organization for arborists and urban foresters, we understand the importance and value of this new standard,” said Caitlyn Pollihan, CEO and Executive Director, ISA. “Standards and their associated certifications are effective at increasing engagement and improving performance. ISA certification and qualification holders will be key subject matter experts for the organizations looking to achieve this new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard.”
The new SFI Standard is appropriate for organizations that own, manage, or are responsible for urban and community forests. SFI and its partners look forward to raising awareness and promoting the new SFI Standard to achieve certifications among government organizations (municipalities, counties, states, provinces), Indigenous Peoples, community groups, healthcare organizations, universities, corporate campuses, and many others.
‘‘The new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard is a great complement to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program as it inspires continued growth, sophistication and management of trees in our cities and towns. Urban forests provide countless social, economic and environment benefits for communities and maintaining the vitality of these resources is essential,” said Dan Lambe, President, Arbor Day Foundation.
Urban forests provide many social and economic benefits including improved health and well-being, social cohesion and accessibility, outdoor learning environments, reduced air pollution and improved urban design. They are also critical for climate change resilience and to promote nature-based solutions. Considering the value of the benefits and how many people around the world live in cities and towns, maintaining the vitality of these resources is essential.
‘‘This new standard recognizes the tremendous value urban and community forests have in storing carbon, abating stormwater, filtering air and water, providing wildlife habitat and creating jobs. Our urban forests not only contribute to local economies, they’re critical infrastructure to mitigate climate change, improve quality of life, cool cities and save lives. By providing a standard that gives benchmarks and guideposts, any best practices brought forward will benefit all urban forests consistently, fortifying the health and resilience of urban and community tree canopy into the future,” said Jad Daley, President and CEO, American Forests.
‘‘The Society of Municipal Arborists, as the professional membership association for the people who make or support daily tree planting and care decisions in communities, is thrilled to support SFI’s new Urban and Community Forestry Sustainability Standard. Our members are on the front lines of urban forestry work and everyday, their decisions impact millions of trees and people. The SFI Standard will take their work to new heights while also providing an opportunity to acknowledge the amazing work being done,” said Leslie Berckes, Executive Director, Society of Municipal Arborists.
“With over 80% of Canadians living in urban areas, and the increasing impacts of climate change on our communities, the need for heathy urban forests is more important than ever. Local governments and organizations of all sizes will benefit from SFI’s new Urban and Community Forestry Sustainability Standard, as it provides clear guidance and best practices to maintain and enhance urban trees and forest with long-term capacity-building in mind. Tree Canada is proud to be part of this watershed moment that will certainly contribute to more resilient ecosystems, healthier people and greener communities,” said Nicole Hurtubise, Chief Executive Officer, Tree Canada.
The standard development process included two public comment periods, multiple pilots, and a ‘red team’ review by an external group of experts. Thank you to our partners: American Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Society of Municipal Arborists, and Tree Canada, as well as the SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard Development Task Group, who collaborated to develop the Standard.
‘‘Trees are key to healthier, happier, safer communities and standards are key to more sustainable urban forests. This is an inflection point in urban and community forestry. It has been an honor to be a part of developing this new tool,” said Paul Johnson, Senior Director Urban and Community Forest, SFI.