As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program just released discussion drafts of the 5-year update to its main standard documents.  They have also done an impressive job of organizing a format for stakeholder feedback and review.  I hope everyone in the business gets involved.

I have only had time to give the standard drafts a single, brief overview.  I plan to go back to them over the coming weeks, organize my thoughts, and share them here.  I also intend to attend the listening session scheduled on February 27 in Portland, Maine where SFI staff will be available to interact with directly.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of preliminary and  positive observations on two very important topics.

PEFC recognition

When SFI rolled out its first Chain of Custody (CoC) standard almost 10 years ago, it was virtually a cut and paste from the PEFC standard (then called PEFC Annex 4).  This made integration of the two standards very simple and efficient, helping both to grow in the marketplace.  In recent years, however, SFI and PEFC have allowed their systems to drift apart to an alarming degree, to the point where mutual recognition is very awkward and unpractical.

In the draft version released yesterday, SFI appears to be taking some important steps to reverse this trend.  The structure of the new standard is aligned more closely with PEFC, and – most importantly – the latest PEFC CoC standard (PEFC ST 2002:2013) is explicitly recognized in the SFI language.  This is very promising and could make all our lives easier in the coming years.

Due Diligence & Controversial Sourcing

Previous versions of the SFI CoC standard addressed the question of avoiding unacceptable sources of fiber (i.e. Due Diligence for avoiding Controversial Sources) in a rather informal and backhanded way.  It was, quite frankly, little more than a fudge.  This was probably never a good idea, and in light of new regulatory requirements like EUTR and Lacey Act, just not acceptable.

The new SFI CoC draft has finally addressed this area directly.  The new standard language still needs some work, but I am encouraged to see a framework which should bring SFI CoC back into the same league with other standards like FSC and PEFC.

Stay tuned for more on this subject in the next few weeks.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION (10 Jan. 2014):  This post originally included an error in the second paragraph.  The date of the SFI listening session in Portland, Maine is February 27, 2014 NOT February 31, as originally published.  Sorry for any confusion.