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SFI, NCASI launch tools to quantify climate change mitigation, water conservation in forests


December 3, 2021
By Sustainable Forestry Initiative

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The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI) announced the launch of the SFI-NCASI Carbon and Water Tools today. These science-based tools will help increase understanding of how SFI-certified forests can be used as nature-based solutions to help mitigate climate change and ensure water conservation. These new measurement tools help quantify the contributions of the 370 million acres/150 million hectares of forestland certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard in addressing climate change and meeting the water needs of both society and ecological systems.

“We know the carbon in SFI-certified forests make them essential to reducing the impacts of climate change. However, quantifying the carbon values associated with SFI-certified forests can be challenging. These new tools will inform scientists in ways that will advance the already significant impact of forests toward mitigating climate change and providing for our water needs,” said Paul Trianosky, SFI’s chief conservation officer.

The interactive carbon tool shows forest carbon stocks, rates of sequestration, and long-term carbon storage in products and allows users to tailor their own queries. The carbon tool shows that each year, trees in SFI-certified forests in the United States remove 235.3 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is equal to the emissions from over 170 million cars a year.

The water tool also demonstrates that each year, 24 trillion gallons of water flow through SFI-certified forests, where water quality values are protected and monitored — enough water to supply the needs of a city like Los Angeles for more than 150 years. These 68 million acres of SFI-certified forestland in the U.S. include more than 203,000 miles of streams.

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“Combining the forest certification expertise of SFI with the forest science expertise of NCASI has resulted in the SFI-NCASI Carbon and Water Tools, data-driven products that will help clarify how sustainable forest management contributes to climate and water solutions while providing other ecosystem services and products needed by society,” said Dr. Darren Miller, vice-president of forestry programs, NCASI.

SFI and NCASI believe that these tools will be most valuable for those interested in evaluating the importance of SFI-certified forests for addressing climate change and meeting water needs, including companies that use SFI-labeled products and academic and non-profit organizations seeking to better understand the climate and water values of SFI-certified forests.

“The tools use current data from the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program, which is one of the most reliable sources of forest inventory in the U.S.,” said Dr. Stephen Prisley, principal research scientist, NCASI. These estimates of carbon per acre across all private, state, and local ownerships were applied to lands certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard.

NCASI’s membership includes many SFI-certified organizations. NCASI and SFI, working together, can access the SFI network and conduct research projects at large scales in SFI-certified forests across the U.S. and Canada.

NCASI’s mission aligns well with SFI’s collaborative mission and ensures an underpinning of credible science for forest management and conservation outcomes. NCASI has been a consistent participant on SFI’s Conservation Impact Sounding Board. Their counsel, along with numerous other conservation organizations and SFI-certified organizations, helped guide the establishment of SFI’s Conservation Impact Project.

“NCASI’s research has specifically contributed to building an understanding of conservation outcomes associated with the implementation of the SFI standards. This new tool is a great example of how we can work together to have a positive impact on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges,” said Dr. Darren Sleep, SFI’s senior director of conservation science and strategies.


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