SFI names Lauren T. Cooper as chief conservation officer; currently a program director at Michigan State University leading the Forest Carbon and Climate Program, Cooper also co-led a study linking climate change, forests, certification

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WASHINGTON and OTTAWA , October 11, 2022 (press release) –

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) announced Lauren T. Cooper as its new Chief Conservation Officer today.

Cooper is well respected among the forest sector, academic communities, and the SFI® network. She has exceptional knowledge and experience in climate smart forestry and applied science and is well-respected internationally for her work in assessing forest-based climate finance and for linking wood utilization to sustainability. Cooper was one of two research scientists at Michigan State University (MSU) who led a study entitled “Linking Climate Change, Forests, and Certification” that included a qualitative analysis of SFI programmatic documents, interviews with key informants, and observations of SFI training activities. The resulting report informed the development of the Climate Smart Forestry objective in SFI’s 2022 Forest Management Standard.

Cooper currently serves as Program Director at MSU where she leads the Forest Carbon and Climate Program for the University’s Forestry Department. Cooper has had extensive experience in conservation and climate science, policy and conservation education and has authored numerous publications. She has served as a convener, moderator, and facilitator in high-level climate events, engaged in numerous climate working groups and has developed climate curriculum, educational materials, and plans. Cooper also currently serves as a steering committee member with the Women’s Forest Congress.

“I look forward to working with the SFI team to enhance collaborations and build new relationships at the intersection of sustainability, forests, society, and climate,” said Cooper.

As Chief Conservation Officer, Cooper will report to the CEO and will provide conservation leadership to SFI and its vast network of conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, governments, universities, brand owners, and the forest sector. Her many responsibilities will also include: providing leadership to the conservation pillar and team; engaging with the CEO and senior leadership team to direct the organization’s conservation work; serving as the principal external liaison on conservation and climate with SFI’s network; developing best management practices for climate smart forestry and fire resiliency and awareness (and delivering training programs for SFI certified organizations on these topics); leading SFI’s participation in collaborative efforts to conserve forested landscapes; integrating Indigenous knowledge into SFI’s conservation programs; guiding relevant conservation research (primarily in climate change, biodiversity, and water).

"SFI is thrilled to have Lauren join our team,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI. ”Her experience in research analysis, policy development and implementation, stakeholder engagement, impact assessment, knowledge transfer, education and training, sustainable land management, climate smart forestry, and track record of successfully working with Indigenous communities will further accelerate the scale and impact of our work.”

Cooper is in the final stages of completing her Ph.D. in Human Dimensions in Forestry, from MSU. She earned a Master of Science in Natural Resource Policy and Planning, from the University of Michigan School of Resources and Environment along with a Master of Urban Planning in Land Use and Environmental Planning, from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Cooper also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Colonial Society, Landscape Change and Vulnerable Populations from Wayne University.

Lauren will begin full-time with SFI in April of 2023.
About the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) advances sustainability through forest-focused collaborations. We are an independent, non‑profit organization that leverages four interconnected pillars of work: standards, conservation, community, and education. SFI works with the forest sector, conservation groups, academics, researchers, brand owners, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and governments. Collaborating with our network, we leverage SFI-certified forests and products as powerful tools to help solve sustainability challenges such as climate action, conservation of biodiversity, education of future generations, and sustainable economic development. Learn more: forests.org

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