The Sustainable Forest Management Movement

Sustainable Forest Management

What do packaging and sustainable forest management have in common? What even is SFM? And why are so few forest certified?


First off ─ yes, this is still a blog about packaging trends. It’s still Trending Packaging; we’re still here. Today, however, we’ll take a little peek at one of the world’s most significant sustainability trends: forest sustainability. Or, as it’s defined, Sustainable Forest Management, (SFM), which happens to be one of Greenblue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition primary concerns.

And that’s that. The Sustainable Forest Management concept was given birth to in the 90s, (as environmental movements often do), when the “Forest Principles” were declared at the Earth Summit. While non-legally binding, the document’s recommendations for a more conservative forest management were welcomed with open arms. From then on, certifications started being handed over to some qualified forest owners.

Sustainability Cycle

Thus began a movement. More and more forests got SFM certified, as business owners started demanding more resources; but there came a point when the demand greatly exceeded the supply. And it’s been likewise ever since. The natural question, Tom Pollock asks in Packaging Digest, is “why aren’t more forests certified?”

The answers differ, notes Pollock:

[quote style=”boxed”]“The answer is a bit complex, unsurprisingly, due to a number of factors (…) It also depends on who you ask. A paper manufacturer might tell you that forest certification programs are too complex and expensive. A corporate brand owner might say that there is too much of a political atmosphere surrounding competing certification program. A forest owner might say that they do not receive the economic benefit that they expect. The same forest owner might also argue that their forest is already sustainably managed and certification is a costly “check in the box” exercise. ”[/quote]

In spite of this challenging climate, writes Pollock,“forest certification has shown enormous benefits toward achieving the goal of sustainable forest management.” The high demand will continue to push the movement forward, as long as the profits of being certified remain greater than the costs. The values and benefits of doing so are many and varied, but cash flow is, and will remain to be, one of the primary concerns for all the parts involved, (as it’s been through history).

As Pollock puts it:

[quote style=”boxed”]“Forest certification needs to offer a more compelling value proposition to small private landowners in the United States. Likewise, forest certification also needs to offer a more compelling value proposition to brand owners.”[/quote]

Sustainable Forest Management has taken shape as its own discipline through the past 25 years, with its own best practices and criteria for evaluation. The certification system has also experienced shifts in perspective as the years have passed, adapting to different challenges in policies and regulations. The movement hasn’t stopped ─ it’s still evolving as we speak.


Sponsored by Derprosa, leading brand in biaxially oriented polypropylene films for packaging.


Source, (photos):