NSF Offers New Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard

by | Aug 25, 2023

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The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has unveiled what it says is the world’s first and only industry-recognized forest standard for communities, the Sustainable Forest Initiative’s (SFI) Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard.

The new standard includes five guiding principles and 16 objectives that work towards addressing the environmental, social, and governance issues that help create sustainable urban forests.

Geared towards organizations that own, manage, or are responsible for urban or community forests, SFI’s guidance emphasizes the many benefits of trees in addressing climate change, community well-being, and resiliency, among other valuable assets. Some of the standard’s objectives include Forest and Tree Health, Stewardship of Natural Resources, and Disaster-Readiness. NSF can certify organizations to any number of these objectives.

“This new SFI standard provides third-party validation to the important sustainability efforts of organizations that own, manage, or are responsible for urban or community forests,” said Michelle Matteo, Forestry Program Manager at NSF-ISR. “By achieving certification to SFI’s Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard, organizations can demonstrate their leadership and innovation in forest management through their commitment to quality environmental, social, and governance practices.”

Certification to the new standards can help organizations demonstrate their implementation of industry-approved forest management criteria, take the lead in forest management efforts, and show their commitment to sustainability innovations.

Standards Support Government Prioritization of Urban and Community Forests

As national governments have been increasingly prioritizing forests, these standards offer guidance on how to implement sustainability goals for forests in practice. Especially as cities continue to grow at a fast pace, trees have been identified as a key nature-based solution to issues such as carbon capture, mitigating the urban heat island effect, and providing space for recreation.

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. is investing $1.5 billion in urban and community forests over the next 10 years, and Canada has announced similar financing through its Natural Infrastructure Fund. The release of SFI’s standard also follows a recent announcement from the USDA of a $150 million investment towards helping small-acreage forest landowners protect and preserve their growing forests.

NSF has audited forests to management standards for over 17 years. The organization’s certified arborist who has supported these efforts will also do so in addressing organizations invested in meeting objectives included in the new standard. NSF-ISR will also be providing integrated audits and resources to help organizations on their way to certification.

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