Forests in Focus Landscape Assessment
Sustainability tool for forest products
Created in partnership with the American Forest Foundation, Forest in Focus (FF) is an innovative new platform to identify risk in forest product supply chains and provide opportunities for achieving positive conservation impacts through the engagement of family forest owners. Currently under development, Forests in Focus is a powerful data tool that gives users the business intelligence to help define, measure, and communicate their commitment to sustainable forest management to consumers, shareholders, and other stakeholders.
Forests in Focus leverages the power of data visualization and aggregation to give brand owners a new level of transparency in their supply chains. With FF, brand owners and other stakeholders will have the ability to engage with a portion of the forest products supply chain that is responsible for over 50% of fiber in the U.S. marketplace that has been largely left out of sustainability discussions – family forest owners.
A key challenge in meeting ambitious certified fiber goals is that adoption of forest certification has been limited among family forest owners. In the U.S., which has one of the highest rates of certified forest area globally, only 22% of forests are certified. For family-owned woodlands, which comprise nearly 40% of forests in the US, the rate is approximately 10%. All the while, family woodlands supply over 50% of the fiber flowing into supply chains.
This platform will employ aggregation and analysis of publicly available data to assess sustainability at the landscape level. Forest certification, for example, verifies the use of specific practices at the parcel level, whereas FF is designed to assess how practices encapsulate forest sustainability across an entire landscape. The FF approach makes it possible to evaluate and assess risk when sourcing from forests owned by the roughly 22 million family landowners in the U.S.. Because the majority of lands are not evaluated at the parcel scale via certification, family woodland owners are often excluded, unfairly, from supply chains that require only certified fiber.
Additionally, and most importantly, the FPWG and AFF recognized that for any effort be truly successful it must operate on the guiding principle to “bring together the forest products supply chain and its stakeholders to collaborate on positive conservation impacts”. Unlike other approaches that simply assess risk, FF will actively and transparently identify risk and associated patterns to reveal opportunities to drive real, positive impact on the ground.