"Sustainable" Forestry Initiative (SFI): Certified Greenwash

A photo essay exposing the SFI's deceptive eco-label

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) was created in 1994 by the paper and timber industry for the benefit of the paper and timber industry. Specifically, it is an outgrowth of the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the primary trade association for the $175 billion US paper and timber products sector. Virtually all of its funding comes from the paper and timber industry, which also dominates its environmental ‘standard’-setting process, thus severely compromising SFI’s independence.

SFI Certified: Logging in Oregon's salmon watersheds

SFI Certified: Logging in Oregon's salmon watersheds

This photo captures SFI-Certified operations by Plum Creek Timber in coastal Oregon's temperate rainforest. Note the logging operation in progress on the far slope. Only 20 feet separates clearcuts on steep slopes from salmon habitat in the Coquille river, which flows between the far slope and the burning wood in the foreground. Logging so close to waterways increases the temperature of the water and fills it with excess mud, making the river less suitable for fish. Clearcutting operations also deprive fish of the wood that provides them shelter in streams. Photo courtesy of Francis Eatherington

SFI Certified: Landslides in Washington State

SFI Certified: Landslides in Washington State

In 2007, heavy rainfall across Washington State caused at least 1,273 documented landslides. Eighty-four percent of these landslides occurred on lands certified by SFI, which deemed dangerously steep slopes 'safe' for logging. Most of the landslides within SFI approved operations occurred on lands managed by Weyerhaeuser, an SFI-certified company that holds a seat on the SFI’s board of directors. Weyerhaeuser cut down trees or built roads on 987 acres of slopes likely to drain into nearby streams or rivers. To date, SFI has found no fault with Weyerhauser's logging on the acreage where these landslides occurred, even though Weyerhauser's own studies indicated that many of them were subject to “high slope instability.” © 2008, David E. Perry. All rights reserved.

SFI Certified: Forest fragmentation in California

SFI Certified: Forest fragmentation in California

California's largest private landowner, Sierra Pacific Industries isolates habitats in the Sierra with clearcut-style logging, roads, and tree plantations, cornering vulnerable animal populations in the process. For example, the survival of the rare Pacific Fisher hinges on being able to move easily through California's forests-- and not through large, barren open spaces that make the Pacific Fisher much more vulnerable to predators. Photo Courtesy of Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch

SFI Certified: Sierra Pacific Industries Tree Plantations in California

SFI Certified: Sierra Pacific Industries Tree Plantations in California

The SFI-certified logging of Sierra Pacific Industries will convert at least one million acres of wild forest into industrial wood factories called 'tree farms’—spelling disaster for the local ecology. SFI allows excessive use of toxic chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. According to data compiled by California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sierra Pacific Industries used more than 770,000 pounds of toxic chemicals between 1995 and 2006, 16 including an herbicide known to cause male frogs to grow ovaries. 17 Because these chemicals are typically used in areas where most of the trees have been recently cut down, this leads to water runoff mixed with chemicals that contaminate nearby streams. While eco-labels ostensibly set higher standards for the environmental attributes of a product, SFI serves the profit-interests of the timber industry's largest players by covering even the most obviously harmful practices with its appealingly 'green' label. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Holm/EPIC.

SFI Certified: Clearcuts in Maine

SFI Certified: Clearcuts in Maine

This Plum Creek Timber logging operation in Maine was approved by SFI. It was formerly a wintering area for deer before the forest was clearcut. The Natural Resources Council of Maine asked SFI to take action against Plum Creek based on operations like the one depicted above. A year later SFI informed the environmental group that Plum Creek practices had improved and that therefore SFI would take no action against Plum Creek. Plum Creek President & CEO Rick Holley currently sits on SFI's Board of Directors. Photo courtesty of Natural Resources Council of Maine

SFI Certified: Clearcuts in Oregon

SFI Certified: Clearcuts in Oregon

More SFI-approved logging in Western Oregon. In October, SFI board president Marvin Brown resigned his position as Oregon state forester following a controversial tenure in which his department was accused of conducting and tolerating environmentally-harmful forestry practices, including violations of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy of Francis Eatherington

SFI Certified: Greenwash Advertising

SFI Certified: Greenwash Advertising

The forest destruction illustrated in the six previous photos is promoted by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative's (SFI) phony 'eco-label' and advertising campaigns. This misleading marketing is SFI's primary purpose. In 2008, SFI’s payments to advertising firm Porter Novelli topped $3.4 million, more than half of SFI’s budget for the year.