SFI’s Climate Smart Forestry Objective in the Context of Northern Hardwoods


  • Darren Sleep Sustainable Forestry Initiative


smart forestry, climate change, northern hardwoods


The effects of climate change represent a major threat to the planet’s ecological, social, and economic stability; effects that are now part of our lived experiences. With increasing warming, these are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Proposed solutions to climate change often lack clarity, face daunting real-world constraints, and sometimes entail serious risk and costs. Sustainable forest management and the products that ensue represent pointed, effective, low-risk and cost-effective tools to combat these increasing threats. Altering management to improve the forests’ capacity to capture carbon and generate these benefits are key to our national and international climate-mitigation efforts. To be successful, management actions need to be quickly adapted to avoid the worst and most impactful negative effects to forest health and productivity. Increasingly, climate adaptation research suggests that northern hardwood systems and species may be more adaptable to future climate scenarios (e.g., temperature and moisture regimes), while also being more susceptible to some of the more severe negative effects, including increased ice storms, herbivory from invasive pests, and pathogens. Further, elements of hardwood silviculture (like direct seeding) may be more adaptable to changing conditions. Applied across SFI’s 150 million hectare (370 million acre) certified footprint, climate smart forestry will help mitigate negative effects in both hardwood and softwood forests in North America. The SFI Climate Smart Forestry objective helps ensure that certified organizations are both aware of the climate risks they face, and account for them in business and forest management planning. This presentation will focus on I) the new SFI Climate Smart forestry objective requirements in the context of hardwood systems, II) the challenges operators are facing, and III) the potential practices that will lead to climate change benefits.

Author Biography

Darren Sleep, Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Darren is the Lead Scientist at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), based in Ottawa, Ontario, where he focuses on leading SFI’s conservation and science program and on increasing SFI’s capacity to develop and manage impactful conservation and research projects in Canada and the United States. He holds a BSc in Biology from the University of New Brunswick, a MSc in Biology from the University of Regina, and a PhD in Ecology from the University of Guelph. Prior to joining SFI, Darren spent 12 years as Project Leader at NCASI, based in Montreal, Quebec, where he worked on issues of relevance to the forest sector and liaised with the scientific and conservation biology communities. His primary area of expertise is in forest ecology, and sustainable forest management in the context of rare and threatened species, climate change, and science/policy integration. Darren’s experience has led him to participate on several government advisory panels, including on species at risk in Ontario (COSSARO), on international boreal forest issues (UNECE Boreal Team of Specialists), and on global sustainable use of wildlife (SULi Specialist Group, IUCN).