Highlights from the 2016 SFI Annual Conference
Close to 300 people attended the 2016 SFI Annual Conference for three days of discussions, workshops, presentations and networking in Clearwater, Florida, and brought life to the theme Linking Future Forests to Communities. Attendees were immersed in a range of topics. Many commented: "Where else can you learn about conservation, habitats, markets, supply chains and communities all in one place?"
The range of conference attendees showed the SFI community is growing in numbers and diversity all the time. This year's conference brought together landowners, brand owners, conservationists, Indigenous groups, students, university deans, community groups, government officials, and more. This diversity is also reflected in the SFI Board
, which represents the environmental, social and economic sectors equally.
Many Memories

What a great conference, and it was all thanks to everyone who attended. We hope everyone had a good time, made some new friends, caught up with old friends, and enjoyed the activities, food and conversation. Below is a peek at just some of the great memories we captured.

Herbert Jim, Seminole Tampa Cultural Director for the Seminole Tribe, welcomed everyone to the 2016 SFI Conference!

 A big Thank you for a wonderful conference from the SFI staff

The 2nd annual SFI Annual Conference 5K Fun Run saw over 80 participants complete a great course along the Clearwater Memorial Causeway.
A record-breaking 22 students from nine different schools attended the conference with fresh energy and got the chance to impress potential mentors and employers.

We have many more great conference pictures. 
If you'd like to get any pictures or video clips from the conference, e-mail Monika Gurzenski.

Tools and Resources for Marketplace and Conservation Conversations 
Speakers from numerous brand owner consortia as well as our "Conservation Corner" spoke about exciting tools and resources. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) presented on key performance indicators, as well as their guide for sustainable procurement of wood and paper products; The Sustainability Consortium showed how they are working to improve the sustainability of consumer products and provide tools for brand owners to help assess these products; and GreenBlue's presentation featured its work in engaging stakeholders to address sustainability issues throughout a product's life cycle and its work around innovation in packaging.
The conference offered insights on the water- and biodiversity-related contributions associated with sustainably grown and sourced products. Attendees heard about SFI's work to quantify these conservation benefits. Learn more in SFI's newly released conservation brochure and the SFI 2016 Annual Progress Report, which provides meaningful stats to show the growth and progress of SFI.  
"Being able to participate in the launch of the SFI conservation impact work was so great. The work that SFI is doing and the community you are building and the foot print that you are growing can only go in one positive direction."

-  Healy Hamilton
Chief Scientist and Vice President for Conservation Science, NatureServe
Mark Johnston, a Senior Research Scientist with the Saskatchewan Research Council, took part in the Climate Resiliency and the Carbon Marketplace panel, where he discussed how SRC is developing practical methods for quantifying carbon sequestration in upland boreal forests and wetlands. Read Mark's op-ed that was published just after the conference.

Our "Conservation Corner" featured numerous organizations including the National Wild Turkey Federation, which has an MOU with SFI, and has produced two videos, Forestry Connections 1 and Forestry Connections 2 that have been viewed by more than a million people. Ducks Unlimited was able to spread the word about their Operational Guide for Forest Road Wetland Crossings

Attendees also learned how the SFI community can help advance professional development and expand networks. Attendees were also eligible to earn continuing education credits from the Society of American Foresters, the Canadian Institute of Forestry, The Wildlife Society and the American Association of Architects.
Voices from the Conference Speakers and Participants
"I had a great time talking about LEED, SFI, and architecture at this year's SFI conference. The very day I received the email that said SFI is recognized in the [LEED] ACP credit, I applied.
-  Dustin Davis, SFI Conference Speaker
AIA, LEED Fellow, Associate, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects and past National Chair for the Center for Green Schools
"One of the conference themes was: reaching women, youth, indigenous people, and African-Americans. In other words, today's sustainable forestry involves so much more."
- Nicole K. S. Barker
Coordinating Scientist, Boreal Avian Modelling Project
"The SFI Program does great work through community and conservation grants. More tree time, less screen time for kids by partnering with Earth Rangers. Cool.
-  James Schroeder
Director of Forest Conservation and Partnerships, The Nature Conservancy
Diversity is at the Heart of the SFI Community
Indigenous Groups
Herbert Jim, Seminole Tampa Cultural Director for the Seminole Tribe, welcomed everyone to the conference by saying: "Our souls are part of the land. It's a pleasure to welcome you to talk about our forests.SFI values the participation of Indigenous groups, including the 31 Indigenous and tribal groups with forestland certified to SFI. Respecting Indigenous rights and traditional values is a core operating principle at SFI.
Students and Youth
We set a new record for student attendance with 22 university students representing nine different universities. This high turnout speaks to the value of SFI's student mentorship program and the tremendous support of our student sponsors. Several more organizations have already lined up to be student sponsors for the 2017 Annual Conference in Canada. Conference participants also included deans and faculty from several additional universities, many of which participated in a side event of the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs.

Student participation was made possible thanks to the following Student Sponsors: Florida and Michigan SFI Implementation Committees, Weyerhaeuser, Rayonier, Sappi, and Duke Nicholas Institute, as well as contributions from the Rob Olszewski Memorial Education Fund for Future Forest Leaders.
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was on hand to talk about their memorandum of understanding with SFI and their decision to hold the 2019 World Jamboree on their Summit Bechtel Reserve, in West Virginia, which is certified to SFI. BSA and SFI also made plans to strengthen our partnership in 2017.

International Participation
We continued to attract more participation from our friends and partners abroad. Dorothy Thompson, CEO of Drax Group LLC came from England to deliver a presentation entitled: Sustainability in the Global Pellet Market. Simon Armstrong, Technical Director at the Sustainable Biomass Partnership, came from Scotland to run an SBP clinic. Matthew Reddy, Director of the Forest Solutions Group at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development came from Switzerland to participate in the Driving Sustainability in Global Fiber Supply panel. PEFC International also sent a representative from Switzerland. Staff from the Australian Forestry Standard and VicForests joined us from Australia.
Government Engagement

Conference participants heard from representatives of government agencies from both the U.S. and Canada. Florida State Forester Jim Karels welcomed the audience and spoke about how the SFI Forest Partners Program "was a tremendous help to the Florida Forest Service in getting [our] state forests certified."

Glenn Mason, Assistant Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) pointed to the fact that both SFI and NRCAN "depend on science to help guide management" and thanked SFI "for its commitment and investment in research."

Jim Hubbard, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service, noted that "SFI is onto something with its effort to engage large landowners in landscape conservation." 

SFI Award Winners
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) won the SFI President's Award for putting SFI's scale to work for birds. ABC is taking an ecosystem-based approach to bird conservation that is benefitting birds of conservation concern that are declining, by working collaboratively with SFI Program Participants to create the necessary habitat.

Washington Department of Natural Resources, Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Forest Service won the SFI Conservation Award for a forest management project that demonstrates the benefits of responsible harvesting to avoid catastrophic fire and reduce the damage caused by disease and insects.

The Central Canada SFI Implementation Committee won the SFI Implementation Committee Award for growing partnerships, as evidenced by the signing of 15 MOUs with a diversity of public and private organizations, and for running a "hard hat sticker campaign" designed to encourage and showcase training for harvesting professionals.

Give Us Your Feedback

We want to hear from you on how we can make our conference even better next year! Please complete our conference survey by October 15 for a chance to win a free registration for the 2017 conference (September 27-29 in Ottawa, Canada).
Conference Sponsors

Thank you once again to all our sponsors for making the conference a success!

See you next year during Canada's 150th celebration which takes place during Canada's National Forest Week, the last week of September. Be sure to reserve extra time before and after our conference for additional networking opportunities and special events.

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