An Invitation to Build a Landscape Assurance Model for Forest Products in the U.S.

October 2016

GreenBlue and the American Forest Foundation (AFF) invite you to join your colleagues and peers from marketplace brands and forest product manufacturers to build a landscape assurance model for sourcing forest products in the United States.

When: October 27th, 2016
What time: 8 am – 3 PM
Where: HAVI Headquarters, 3500 Lacey Road, Downers Grove, IL 60515

Who is going?

These brands and more!
These brands and more!

What is a landscape assurance model?

This landscape assurance model employs credible, publicly-available data to provide visibility and assurance of sustainability of the landscapes from which forest products are sourced. Our tool will gather, analyze, and visualize data on the health of forests and communities according to six elements of sustainability: water, carbon, biodiversity, forest practices, community, and landowner engagement. The results will be visually displayed in an easily understood format that will allow a range of users (procurement, sustainability, communications) to quickly determine the sustainability and resilience of their supply chain, while also empowering more demanding users to take deep dives into the data.

Why do we need a landscape assurance model in the U.S.?

Traditionally, we have relied on forest certification to provide assurance of sustainability for forest products. In many parts of the U.S., however, the majority of wood fiber comes from small, family-owned forests. On average, these families own 37 acres, and face administrative and financial barriers to certification. Only 10% of the eligible family-owned land in the U.S. is certified. The model we propose will provide visibility into the sustainability of the wood fiber originating in these lands is sustainably sourced, ensures that millions of responsibly managing smallholders are not excluded from market opportunities and drive sustainability outcomes on the ground.

What’s the process for developing such a model?

In joining this effort, you will join over 50 stakeholders including brands, manufacturers, landowners, agencies, ENGOs and others. Over the next year, we will be working with these stakeholders on a model that embodies the values of simplicity, transparency, credibility, partnership, and, most importantly, impact.

Will this model replace certification or other sustainability systems?

No. In fact, this model will validate and promote such systems. It incorporates, recognizes, and supports existing sustainability frameworks by tying them into a bigger picture of landscape-scale sustainability.

Why does this matter?

First, it will provide assurance of sustainability for non-certified and certified lands, reducing reputational risk to brand owners sourcing from the U.S. Second, it will bring together the many diverse businesses and organizations in a shared understanding of forest sustainability and the means to achieve it. Third, and most importantly, it will allow all of us to identify the actual challenges to forest health and sustainability, and utilize the power of our supply chains to overcome those challenges and effect positive change.

What do we ask of you?

We ask you to commit to reviewing and providing your feedback on the landscape assurance model. Between now and January 2017, you would commit to:

a) reading the landscape assurance model concept paper;

b) participating in a phone call to give your feedback, ask questions, and identify issues;

c) attending a working session in Chicago on October 27th (optional);

d) participating in a follow-up phone call to present new ideas to you and get your reactions;

e) reviewing a revised proposal in January and deciding whether or not to formally become involved in the next phase of the project (February – September 2017), during which we will move beyond the concept stage and design the model itself.

You may be thinking “But I’m not an expert in forest issues. What possible use could I be?”

We have engaged a number of forest experts – from agencies, to universities, to ENGOs – to help in this process. What we need most of all is feedback from other stakeholders – from brands that use forest products to landowners who grow trees – to figure out how to make a landscape assurance model actually work in the real world and maximize its utility for challenges and opportunities organizations like yours face. We simply cannot do this without your help.

“OK, I’m interested in helping. What do I do?”

Thank you for your willingness to help. Your feedback and contributions will make a difference to the long-term health of our nation’s forests. To get started, simply send an e-mail to Tom Pollock (tom.pollock@greenblue.org) indicating that you’re interested. We’ll quickly send you the concept paper and set up the first phone call. And just like that, you and your company will be on the road to making a positive contribution to the future of our forests.

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