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SFI Community Grants Help Landowners Keep Forests as Forests

Posted: January 11, 2018

SFI grants are designed to put the latest best practices and scientific research to work on behalf of well-managed forests, large and small.
The SFI grant program provides strategies and benefits to forest landowners across the United States.

The SFI grant program provides strategies and benefits to forest landowners across the United States.

Imagine being able to tap into a national network of landowners and land managers who share your passion for making the most of a forest’s natural beauty and its environmental and economic potential. Family forest owners and land managers across the United States are doing just that as they benefit from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program.

SFI grants are designed to put the latest best practices and scientific research to work on behalf of well-managed forests, large and small. Since the program began in 2010, SFI has awarded 53 Conservation and 49 Community Partnership grants totaling more than $3.4 million to foster conservation and community-building projects. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $13.2 million.

The grant program builds on the fact that SFI is the only forest certification standard in North America that requires participants to support and engage in research activities to improve forest health, productivity, and sustainable management of forest resources, and the environmental benefits and performance of forest products. Since 1995, SFI program participants have invested more than $1.6 billion in forest research activities.

These grants harness the scale of over 285 million acres of forestland certified to SFI—like it’s a living laboratory. Some of the very same challenges faced by small landowners in Pennsylvania are shared by families and land managers in other states, and SFI is working hard to ensure that good ideas are shared across the SFI community. Here are two examples from Maine and Virginia.

SFI is supporting Maine’s family forest owners to keep forests as forests

The Maine SFI Implementation Committee, in partnership with the Maine Forest Service, is leading the development of What Will My Woods Look Like: A Guide to Harvesting Family Woodlands. Encouraging sustainable management of these family woodlands is one of Maine’s most promising strategies for conserving woodlands and their associated benefits throughout the state. Active forest management can provide incentives, financial and otherwise, to help woodland owners keep their land as forest, versus converting it for other uses like real estate development. In addition to developing the guide, this project will deliver a series of workshops.

SFI is helping keep forestlands in the hands of African American families

Family forest owners face myriad challenges, such as forest fragmentation and questions of inheritance, when it comes to keeping forests in the family. SFI is always looking for local partnerships that encourage families to see forests as valuable assets. Family forestland in southern states are a focus for a community-based approach that uses spreading sustainable forestry practices to keep forests as forests.

The Black Family Land Trust is using forestry as a key tool to keep land in the hands of African American families. Although African Americans had amassed 15 million acres of land in the U.S. South between 1865 and 1919, today 97% of those lands have been lost, according to the Land Trust Alliance. A Tree, Is A Tree, Is A Tree 101, supported in part by funding from SFI Inc., is the Black Family Land Trust’s three-part training on forest management, intended to introduce Southside Virginia landowners to managed forestry as an asset-protection strategy. 

SFI and its partners are working for small landowners

The SFI community finds strength in its diversity. SFI works with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners big and small, educators, local communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, and universities.

SFI grants are designed to leverage the expertise and commitment of this broad range of people and organizations. To learn more about SFI’s work and how your forest management practices can benefit from the latest trends in community building and forest research, visit the website.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee, please visit the website or call 888-734- 9366.

Contact Information

Amy Doty
  • Community Outreach Manager, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.