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ATFS Standards of Sustainability Review

ATFS Standards Setting Process Overview

Shaping the future of the American Tree Farm System

Designed for the size, scale and management intensity of family owned and small woodlands in the United States, the ATFS Standards of Sustainability are the basis for enrollment in the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) program. These Standards periodically undergo review through an open, transparent process to ensure appropriate incorporation of public input, emerging developments in the forest management arena and to promote continuous improvement of the ATFS program.

The ATFS Standard Review is coordinated by an Independent Standards Review Panel (ISRP). Convened by the AFF Board of Trustees, the ISRP is comprised of a representative cross section of forestry community leaders and stakeholders, all with an interest in forest sustainability and family forest owners in the United States. Summaries of each of the ISRP’s meetings will be published in the Meeting Summary Section.

This process is implemented in accordance with the American Forest Foundation’s Standard Setting Procedures and guidelines set forth by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The outcome of this process will be the 2015-2020 ATFS Standards of Sustainability. The complete timeline for this process can be found here.

Any interested party that is unable to participate in the Standards Review Process, due to their own or AFF’s resource limitations (social, financial, staffing or otherwise) is encouraged to contact AFF staff or an ISRP member to provide their feedback.

Scope of Review
This process involves public review of the ATFS Standards of Sustainability that apply to certification via ATFS regional certificates via State Tree Farm Programs, ATFS Independently Managed Groups (IMGs) and other individual ATFS certificates.


Public Engagement Process

The public is invited to submit input into the process during two 60-Day review periods. The first public review period is scheduled for January 7- March 7, 2014 and will focus on review of the current standards; the second is scheduled for June 3-August 3, 2014* and will involve review the suggested changes put forward by the ISRP based on public feedback.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit their suggestions for improvement to the ATFS Standards, as well as identify any areas within the 2010-2015 ATFS Standards of Sustainability where additional guidance would help support implementation or auditing of the ATFS Standard in practice.

During the two comment periods, interested parties are encouraged to submit their comments through the Standards Review Feedback page or in-person at public feedback sessions. Any interested party submitting written comments during the review periods will receive confirmation that their feedback has been received. Themes identified in feedback received during each public review period will be published on the ATFS website, in the Standards Feedback Summary section.

Communications about commenting opportunities and the standards processes is transmitted through email communication to AFF/ATFS network lists and partnering organizations, in addition to press releases, announcements will be made in AFF/ATFS webinars and other events as well as published on the ATFS and AFF websites.


Public Review Periods

First Public Review Period: 
January 7- March 7, 2014

Second Public Review Period: 
June -August 2014*



In-Person Feedback Sessions

Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 3-4pm 
ATFS National Leadership Conference
Savannah, Georgia

Friday, July 18, 2014, 
National Tree Farmer Convention 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


*Second review period dates are subject to change, as necessary, based on volume and processing of feedback received during the first review period. 

Transition Process

Based on public input, a revised Standard will be present by the ISRP to AFF’s Board of Trustees for approval and adoption. Once enacted, there will be a one-year transition period to transition to full implementation of the new ATFS standards. At the conclusion of the transition period, all Tree Farms must comply with the new standards.

During the transition period, AFF will work closely with State Tree Farm Programs, Independently Managed Group (IMG) Mangers, certificate holders and other partnering organizations to shift to the approved 2015-2020 ATFS Standards of Sustainability. This will include dissemination of the revised standards, training programs and other activities.