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New Standards: Sustainable Forestry Initiative

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December 21, 2018


John Auel, Professional Logging Manager Coordinator


Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University extension service.

Amy Taylor: Today, we're talking about new standards for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Hello, I'm Amy Taylor, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with John Auel, Mississippi State University Extension Service professional lobbying manager coordinator.

John, we have the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and it's an extremely important program. Now, what are the basics of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative?

John Auel: The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is really a program to ensure that future generations get the same benefit from the forest that we do now. It's all based on sustainability, we want to make sure that we are covering three different things. We want to make sure it's economically sustainable, socially sustainable, in terms of following all the laws, regulations, et cetera, but most importantly environmentally sustainable. The things that we do in the forest are not in any way harming the environment. In fact, that we are enhancing those services that we get. Those services can be clean water, and clean air and, obviously, forest products, which we need, and we want to make sure that we do that in a sustainable manner. All we're doing through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative is improving our practices, so we can prove to the public that what we're doing is beneficial.

Amy Taylor: Yes, that's always important, to let folks know that we are staying on top of that.

Now, why is this important for loggers also?

John Auel: Within the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard it is important that the loggers be trained in certain aspects of it. In fact, the companies who are certified in Sustainable Forestry Initiative are required to purchase their wood from loggers who have been trained, and that's why our program exists, professional logging manager program exists to provide that training, and to provide proof to the companies that the loggers they use have been trained, so it meets their goals. Without that they could not be certified.

Amy Taylor: Are there some new standards that you want to compare against the old standards? I know that we have some new things that are in place. Why don't you compare old versus new a little bit?

John Auel: Sure. As of last year, in fact, a qualified logging company was one where one person within that company, usually the owner, had been through our core program, our core program is, basically, two classes, and we cover four topics in those two classes, which is Introduction to SFI, or Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Safety, BMPs for Water Quality or Best Management Practices, and also the business class. Like I said, last year for a company to be qualified, and be able to deliver to a mill only one person had to do that. Now, they've changed the standard this year to include that every crew that a company has, some logging companies have more than one crew out there in the in the woods, each one of their foremen or crew leaders has to be trained as well. That's the big change, and that's going to affect a lot of people.

Amy Taylor: How will this affect our future practices?

John Auel :It's going to be mean people have to go through class, basically. In order for a company to be able to haul to SFI certified mills they will have to make sure that all their crews are trained appropriately, which means that their foremen will have to go through the first class, or the Intro Safety and BMP portion, but those people will also, now, have to do the continuing education program in order to maintain their qualification. Loggers have to earn 12 hours continuing education credit every two years, which is another thing that our program offers. What it does, essentially, is it guarantees that the wood harvested and used by these mills are harvested by qualified individuals, which could've been a slight issue last year.

Amy Taylor: Will these new standards bring forth any type of change in the way the classes are held?

John Auel: First of all, we always update the teaching material just to make sure that we are discussing current topics. There are a lot of laws and regulations that are passed by the federal government that we have to let people know about, and so in that sense we do always update our material, but in terms of the foremen having to go through the class it'll be the exact same classes that the owners have to go through. There is no change there. The biggest change really is that the foremen do not have to take the business management class, and that's key for them right there because a lot of business owners really don't necessarily want their foremen to go through the business management class because there's a lot of business information in that class, obviously, that's not important for the foremen to understand.

Amy Taylor: Do foresters and loggers, do they seem receptive to this?

John Auel: We actually get both comments. There's a lot of positive reaction to this in terms of making everybody be on a level playing field because there are a lot of companies who invest a lot of time, and money into making sure they're up-to-date with these, a lot of logging company, and they take a sense of pride in that, and they want to make sure that when they haul their wood to a mill that everybody else has gone through the same things they have.

Amy Taylor: It's something that can help everybody. For more information on SFI and the new standards, where can we go?

John Auel: You can go to any county extension office, they will have our contact information, or you can go to our website, or give us a call. Our website is

Amy Taylor: Today, we've been speaking with John Auel professional logging manager coordinator. I'm Amy Taylor, and this has been Farm and Family, have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University extension service.

Department: Forestry

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