Atco Tree Planters Help Break World Record; Editor Gets Opinionated

By Contributor
September 30th, 2015

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) and its partners across North America set a new Guinness World Records title, planting 202,935 trees in one hour. SFI partnered with 29 teams of 25-100 people each to plant trees in locations from New York City to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Organized by SFI, the effort involved 1,165 volunteers from all ages and backgrounds, including the forest sector, community organizations, youth groups, conservation groups and SFI Implementation Committees. They planted trees between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. EDT on May 20, 2015. Watch a video capturing highlights of the record. When mature, these trees will provide clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and help improve the quality of life for many.

 “As SFI celebrates its 20th anniversary, I can’t think of a more exciting way to recognize and reinforce our commitment to healthy forests and sustainable communities, and to reaffirm that the actions we take today can have a significant and material impact on the future of our forests,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI.

Teams that participated in the world record-breaking initiative included American Forests, Atco Wood Products, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ TreeBaltimore, City of Sumner, Washington, Coopérative Forestière des Hautes-Laurentides, Domtar, Fornebu Lumber Company, Interfor, Island Timberlands, J.D. Irving Limited, Massey-Vanier High School, Norbord Barwick (in conjunction with local schools), Norbord (Groupement forestier cooperatif Abitibi, Sylviculture La Vérendrye, Forêt d’enseignement et de recherche Harricana), New York Restoration Project, Parks & People Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania SFI Implementation Committee, ReEnergy Holdings, Resolute Forest Products (the Haveman Team — Dog River Matawin Forest, the Outland Team – Black Spruce Forest, the Brinkman Team – Crossroute Forest), Minnesota SFI Implementation Committee, St. Louis County’s Land & Minerals Department, the Sugar Pine Foundation, TD Bank, Forests Ontario (with partners Michael’s Hair Body Mind and Credit Valley Conservation), UPM Blandin, and Williams Lake Plywood — West Fraser.

The editor notes:  SFI promotes itself with the word “sustainable” but other groups say it’s all about greenwashing unsustainable forestry practices.  Here’s a link with another view:  http://www.forestethics.org/sustainable-forestry-initiative

Among other things, ForestEthics accuses SFI of approving “irresponsible forestry practices”, and allowing “excessive use of toxic chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that contaminate fresh water.”  It is also critical of the size of clearcuts allowed by SFI, which ForestEthics claims can permanently damage watersheds, water quality and soil productivity.

Here’s a blurb from SFI:

About the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI)

SFI® Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization that is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized SFI program. SFI works collaboratively with conservation groups, local communities, youth, resource professionals, landowners and countless other organizations and individuals who share our passion for and commitment to healthy forests, responsible purchasing and sustainable communities. Since 2010, SFI has awarded more than 60 Conservation and Community Partnership grants totaling more than $1.9 million to foster education, research and pilot efforts to better inform future decisions about our forests. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $7.1 million. Across the United States and Canada, more than 250 million acres (100 million hectares) are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard. In addition, sustainable forestry is promoted through the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard and the SFI Chain-of-Custody Standard. SFI on- product labels help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. SFI Inc. is governed by a three- chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally. Learn more at www.sfiprogram.org and www.sfiprogram.org/Buy-SFI.

And an opinionated note from the editor:  Should the “environmental sector” be represented “equally” with social and economic interests?  This is the old analogy of the three-legged stool, which would fall over without any one of its  three legs.   But I ask you this:  would the natural environment suffer without the effects of our human economy and society, which rely entirely on having a healthy natural environment?   Arguably the rest of the planet’s biosphere  could be much better off without  humanity.  On the other hand, our economy suffers when the environment suffers.  Think of the huge economic costs of all the human-generated environmental disasters:  oil spills, droughts and flooding and other disruptions of weather patterns  from human-caused climate change, loss of productive soil from recent agricultural practices, the shrinkage of the Aral Sea from inappropriate crop irrigation, the widespread poisoning of  pollenators by inappropriate use of pesticides, and so on.   Three-legged stool?  I think not;   a healthy natural environment is the foundation upon which all of our human efforts depend.  It is the source of all our wealth.   Perhaps all boards of directors, and governments, should have an entity  with over-arching authority to ensure true sustainability.       


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