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Grants given to 50 groups to sustain forests

April 6, 2017 - The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) announced 11 community grants Thursday that will advance the quality of life in communities across North America. SFI is bringing together a diverse range of people from 50 organizations to support community engagement projects that put SFI at the intersection of sustainable forestry, responsible procurement and thriving communities. SFI engages local communities through a variety of initiatives including youth outreach, supporting Indigenous values, forest education programs, and green building projects for low-income families.

These grantees include leading community organizations like Scouts Canada, the Black Family Land Trust, South Dakota Project Learning Tree and Montana's Whitefish School District. Partnerships represented by these projects reach even more broadly, including the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, government agencies in South Carolina, British Columbia and Maine, as well as the University of Winnipeg and the University of Wisconsin. SFI Program Participants, SFI Implementation Committees, family forestland owners and brand owners are also making a difference through SFI community grants.  

The grants were awarded through SFI's Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, which is dedicated to improving conservation of forests and strengthening the communities that depend on them. These projects illustrate best practices and innovative approaches for partnerships focussed on environmental sustainability and the quality of life in local communities. The projects serve to strengthen the link between responsible forest management and youth education, helping underserved communities, and enabling family landowners to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of their land.

"I'm excited to see so many groups coming together to learn about responsible forestry and building connections with local communities," said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. "We are engaging youth, supporting family landowners and bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together to enrich forest‑based communities and improve our shared quality of life because forests affect us all."

A Tree, Is A Tree, Is A Tree 101, led by the Black Family Land Trust, is engaging African Americans in Southside Virginia to turn family forest assets into performing assets for today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, led by Montana's Whitefish School District, will showcase new ways to develop better citizens and leaders through the center's greenhouse, a two-story classroom building, gardens, an orchard, an experimental forest, a native grass meadow, a wet meadow detention pond, and trails.

Marten Monitoring and Youth Knowledge Transfer Program, is an effort led by the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi in Quebec to evaluate the impact of wildlife management guidelines on marten populations and transfer knowledge to Cree youth in the community by combining science and traditional knowledge.

The Forestry Connects Program, led by Forests Ontario, is connecting about 100 high school students and teachers to the boreal forest and giving them real-life experience in responsible forest management.

A Walk in the Forest, led by South Dakota Project Learning Tree, uses volunteers and resource professionals to provide a forest field day for students from grades three to 12 to explore their local forest, get some exercise, and learn about forestry and other natural resource professions.

The Forest-Community Innovation Network, led by the University of Winnipeg, is an active collaborative knowledge forum to support networking and practical research critical to engaging diverse groups, including Indigenous peoples, in fostering innovation.

The Thompson Steelhead Community Collaboration Initiative, led by the Fraser Basin Council, is designed to raise awareness and foster collaboration between Indigenous peoples, the commercial sport fishery and forest managers in the Thompson River watershed of British Columbia.

Trees for Tomorrow School, led by Trees for Tomorrow, is offering a four-day course in the U.S. Great Lakes region to increase teachers' understanding of sustainability and responsible resource management, and how to integrate these concepts into their classroom curriculum.

The EnviroMentality Initiative, from Scouts Canada, is a series of youth-led environmental stewardship projects across Canada focused on helping Scouts learn the skills and knowledge to be sustainability leaders in their communities.  

Wood Magic Forest Fair, a project led by the South Carolina Forestry Foundation, is a series of four-hour programs to engage and educate fifth graders about the many environmental, social, and economic benefits provided by South Carolina's forests.

A Guide to Harvesting Family Woodlands, being developed by the Maine SFI Implementation Committee, will be a key tool to conserve forests, educate forest owners and build partnerships among family woodland owners and forest managers.