Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the External Review Panel?

The External Review Panel is a group of conservation, forestry, academic, and organizational leaders that provide external opinions and advice to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program. The Panel was formed in 1995, as the SFI program was being established, and has functioned since.

What is the Panel’s Mission?

As set forth in the Panel’s Charter, the mission is to provide an ongoing, independent, quality-oriented review of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program, to advise the Board of Directors of SFI, Inc. on appropriate changes that may make the Program more successful in achieving its mission, and to insure that the Annual Progress Report is objective, meaningful, credible, and that it fairly states the status of implementation of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program.

What guides the Panel’s operation?

The Panel operates under a Charter, adopted in 1997 and amended in 2001 and again in 2007.

Who serves on the Panel?

The list of current Panelists can be seen by following the link at the bottom of this page. Biographical information can be obtained by clicking on each highlighted name. A list of former Panelists is also available.

Who sets the Panel agenda?

The Panel elects officers who are responsible for the Panel agenda. Requests to address certain topics or issues may be received from Panelists, SFI, Inc., SFI program participants, and other organizations and individuals.

How do people get named to the Panel?

The Panel chooses its own members, through a nominating and election process set forth in the Charter. Panel nominees are sought from three categories of organization: Conservation/environment, Academic/professional, and Public agency, but nominees are selected for their individual expertise and experience. Nominations are invited from SFI program participants, organizations, agencies, and individuals. Annual elections are held in April or May, with terms beginning July 1 and running 3 years. Panelists are eligible to serve for two full terms if elected.

How does the Panel work?

The Panel normally meets twice a year, once in conjunction with the SFI program Annual Meeting (normally in the fall), and once to review and comment on the SFI program Annual Progress Report (normally in the Spring in the Washington, DC area). Additional meeting needs are handled by conference phone call or an occasional special meeting. Panelists serve without pay; travel costs for official functions are reimbursed.

What are the main issues addressed by the Panel?

While the Panel can provide information and input on any aspect of the SFI program, it has generally focused on the following issues and questions:

  • Does the current SFI Standard represent the best forest management that can reasonably be expected from private and public landowners in North America?
  • Is the SFI program effectively pursuing its goal of continual improvement?
  • Are the claims of progress in sustainable forestry made by the SFI program and its participants valid in light of emerging public expectations and forest science, as well as demonstrated by performance on the land?
  • Are individuals and organizations given ample opportunity to comment upon, contribute to, participate in, or challenge any aspect of the SFI program?
  • Is there an appropriate process for considering any claim that an SFI participant is failing to meet the SFI Standard, or conducting operations that are inconsistent with their obligation under the SFI program? Are there appropriate sanctions if such claims are found to be valid?

How can I contact the Panel?

You can contact the Executive Secretary at neil@visionforestry.com