Responsible Wood director Australian Mark Thomson was invited to present to the 2019 Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) annual conference in Virginia, USA. Source: Timberbiz
Mr Thomson said that the first sign of a unique conference experience appeared,
when he checked into the conference hotel and was issued hotel key card with a colourful image of a log cross section and the caption ‘better choices for the planet’.
“I have never seen a hotel key card produced from chain of custody certified paper stock and to my surprise it actually opened my room door,” he said.
“Later collecting my Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) conference folder, I read the bold statement ‘the actions we take today determine the future of our forests’.
“The ‘Forests of Opportunity’ conference is one of the best conference experiences I’ve ever had.”
Held over three days and attended by 350 delegates, the program was packed with a diverse range of speakers.
Chief Anne Richardson, the first Rappahannock Tribe female chief, provided a informative welcome and Kathy Abusow SFI CEO and president, welcomed all including students from 13 Universities who were warmly introduced as Future Forest Leaders.
Mr Thomson said it was obvious that the strength of the SFI mission ‘to advance sustainability through forest focused collaborations’ was working as there were attendees representing conservation groups, community partners, indigenous leaders, educators, youth mentors, researchers, forest product customers and foresters from across the USA and Canada.
The launch of SFI’s new strategic direction and alignment to focus on addressing global sustainability challenges, meant that conference topics were varied. Many explored how forests can play a central role in addressing climate change, supporting a circular economy, mitigating the oceans plastics crisis and encouraging green buildings.
This future focus created an imperative of challenges however, a positive ‘can do’ attitude prevailed with great encouragement for green jobs, forest education, new technologies, innovative fibre solutions and conservation programs in forests.
Geneva based Luis Rocharte, director Forest Solutions Group from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development spoke about renewable materials for the bio economy. He explained the importance of a thriving forest sector that sustains healthy productive forests and peoples’ wellbeing for the future of our planet.
Principal of the Shelton Group, Suzanne Shelton explained how corporate brands desire meaningful partnerships with solution providers from the forest sector.
Conservation outcomes are often a by-product of well managed forests and collaboration with science guided conservation actions are possible across multiple land uses and ownerships.
Mr Thomson relayed the Australian ‘Responsible Wood’ story and explained how the Australia Development and Construction sectors are progressing significant engineered timber and CLT (Cross laminated Timber) projects.
He cited Brisbane’s 25 King street project, Sydneys’ International House project (2018 World Architecture Festival Best Certified Timber Prize Winner) and the Macquarie University Incubator Project.
Next years SFI conference in October 2020 will be held in Vancouver, Canada.