Waukesha County, WI, Urban Wood Program Among SFI Community Grant Recipients

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) announced 13 SFI Community Grants today featuring collaboration between 63 partner organizations in the United States and Canada, including two that dovetail with the development of a new SFI Urban and Community Forest Sustainability Standard.

One of SFI’s grants supports, “Promoting Urban Forestry and Harvesting Waste Wood,” a project being undertaken by Waukesha County, WI, to complete its urban forest management plans for wood that must be removed due to disease, pests, or other circumstances. This project is led by the Sustainable Resources Institute (SRI), which will help share this work so that other communities can benefit in their urban tree lifecycle planning processes.

SFI awarded a second urban forest grant to the Michigan State University Department of Forestry for its program Supporting Curriculum on Urban Forests, Carbon Storage, and a Changing Climate. MSU, through its work with SFI, will expand course content on forest carbon to create case-study-based materials for foresters, planners, builders, and decision-makers in cities and municipalities. The climate benefits linked with sustainable forest products and green buildings will also be featured.

“SFI’s commitment to making better choices for the planet also means better choices for its people,“ said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI. “Our grantees are leaders in their communities and we look forward to collaborating with them on so many important issues that will strengthen local communities and support solutions to important sustainability challenges.”

Other SFI grant recipients include:

Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) Forest Literacy Framework, which translates the complex language of forests, trees, forest practices, and sustainable forest management into accessible concepts that everyone should know and be able to integrate into their lives and careers. PLT is an initiative of SFI that provides activities for educators, community leaders, and families, including its flagship resource the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide. The guide engages kindergarten through grade 8 students in exploring their environment through 50 field-tested, hands-on activities that integrate investigations of nature with science, math, English language arts, and social studies. There are more than 800 workshops across the U.S. every year organized to train educators on implementing PLT, and contributing to building a lifetime of learning for youth to build a green career pathway. The SFI Community Grants advance SFI’s education work with projects targeted at both youth and adults:

Teacher Tours in New Hampshire—The New Hampshire SFI Implementation Committee is bringing teachers together for a four-day workshop featuring forest and mill tours in July. Teachers will learn about the PLT curriculum, sustainable forest management, and forest products manufacturing, in order to engage students in learning about the natural world.

Creating Climate Training Module for Wood Producers—The Quebec SFI Implementation Committee will develop an interactive, user-friendly training module on climate change mitigation for wood producers that will align with the requirements of the SFI Sustainable Forest Management Standard which was launched on Earth Day this year.

Forest Literacy and Education on Forest Certification Standards—The Association forestière de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue will be engaged in learning opportunities focused on forest certification standards and the benefits of sustainable forest management, delivered to local schools and through in-person events at public libraries. Elevating forest literacy will help create better understanding around the connections of forests to solving sustainability challenges.

Sustainably Managed Forests Training for Architecture Students—Students at the University of Miami School of Architecture will experience timber harvesting in a sustainably managed forest. This will provide hands-on experience of the sustainable nature of forest-based supply chains and the emerging influence of forest products, such as mass timber, on climate-smart building design.

Community Training to Enhance Wetland Conservation Through Sustainable Forest Management—Ducks Unlimited Canada will provide training and resources to forestry students and Indigenous communities across Alberta to ensure better understanding of the role of sustainable forest management in effective wetland conservation.

Using Forestry and Natural Resources to Educate and Empower Women—Clemson University is helping to address the future that women landowners will play in sustainable forest management through this project. The Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) network will facilitate specific skills development for women landowners including chainsaw and pesticide safety.

Creating Equity in the Mississippi Forest and Conservation Sector—Working with the Mississippi Forestry Foundation, this project will involve outreach to new workers, military veterans, and dislocated workers as a way to increase every Mississippian’s opportunity and ability to join the forest sector’s green job workforce.

Promoting Understanding and Respect for Cultural and Medicinal Plants—The shíshálh Nation, SFI and other partners are building on an earlier grant to increase the cultural capacity of shíshálh members, support self-determination in the shishalh swiya (territory), and promote cross-cultural learning through providing cultural plant identification cards to local forest sector companies.

Creating Forest Career Pathways for Students—Friends of the Trinity County Resource Conservation District and Nor-Rel-Muk Wintu tribal members are working together to select locally tailored curriculum and produce high school field guide workbooks focused on Indigenous land stewardship, sustainable forestry, and related green career pathways to benefit the local workforce.

Engaging Citizen Scientists to Map the Birds of Newfoundland’s Sustainably Managed Forests—Birds Canada is engaging citizen scientists to deliver the province’s first breeding bird atlas to map the distribution and abundance of all breeding bird species in Newfoundland. Having solid baseline data about the distribution, abundance, and health of bird populations is essential for sound conservation and management decisions.

Creating Youth Advocates for Community Greening and Climate Action—SFI will work with the Medway Community Forest Cooperative in Alberta to plant tree saplings and conduct tree-health assessments over two years to engage younger generations as environmental champions who take local action on global issues.

SFI Community Grants are awarded for collaborative community-based projects, activities, or events that support SFI’s efforts to connect communities to forests. Projects supported have included providing educators with tools to showcase green career pathways for students, incorporating Indigenous knowledge into forest management planning and education curriculum, and building youth engagement in outdoor education and conservation projects. Since the SFI Grants started in 2010, SFI has awarded 96 Community Grants totaling more than $900,000 to foster community-building projects. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment is over $5 million. Learn more: forests.org/communitygrants.