David Walkem, Chief of Cook’s Ferry Indian Band, near Merritt, British Columbia, President Stuwix Resources Joint Venture and member of the SFI Board of Directors representing the economic sector
The SFI Forest Management Standard is used by dozens of Indigenous communities in Canada and the US to manage millions of acres of forest land. And that’s one of the reasons why I celebrate the decision the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to make green building projects eligible for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits if they choose forest products certified to SFI.
Tribes and First Nations welcome the growth of green building. Many of us see it as another important way to expand the markets for our certified forest products as well as the community of people who want to help protect the forests that are essential to us all. Growing sustainable markets is also in line with the shared vision of Indigenous peoples to create viable local economies.
Expanding the use of the SFI Standard, by creating a pathway to LEED credits, significantly opens up new markets for our SFI certified forest products. In addition, LEED recognition of SFI should encourage more Indigenous forest managers to adopt the SFI Standard. I believe SFI reinforces many of the objectives Tribes and First Nations have when it comes to the management of our own forests and those surrounding our communities. By ensuring sustainable forest management practices include protection of culturally significant areas, support conservation objectives, and promote community involvement, SFI is truly aligned with our core values. When Indigenous forest managers choose to adopt SFI certification on our own lands, it is a powerful way for us to communicate to our own people that our values are being practiced on their lands.
SFI also helps Indigenous forest companies and communities work with other forestry companies certified to SFI. By adopting the SFI Standard, these companies show they respect our values and are open to engaging with our communities to better understand our use of the land and incorporating this information into their forest management practices. Most importantly the Standards require a third party audit to verify adherence to the Standard.
Encouraging green building by increasing the supply of forest products certified to SFI will also expand markets for all of us who support SFI and its mission to support sustainable forests,thrivingcommunitiesandresponsibleprocurement.
Now that the USGBC has opened the door to SFI, I hope that understanding of the cultural values and practices of Indigenous peoples across North America will reach a wider audience in the green building community. I’m confident that this will help support the Council’s mission to enhance social equity, environmental justice, and community quality of life.