The forest industry also started the "Sustainable Forest Initiative" (SFI) through the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), whose member companies own 90 percent of U.S. industrial timberland. The program sets forth a set of forest principles and implementation guidelines that require companies to carry out a variety of actions, including reforesting harvested land promptly, protect water quality in streams and lakes, enhance quality of wildlife habitat, minimize visual impact of timber harvests, protect lands of special ecological significance, contribute to biodiversity by enhancing landscape diversity (American Forest and Paper Association 1995; Chapter 5, Box 5-5). Compliance with SFI is a requirement for continued membership in AF&PA. In 1996, 17 companies of more than 100 member companies were suspended from membership for failure to confirm participation in the SFI. A regional (Pacific Northwest) variation of the SFI is a cash supplement paid by mills to timber harvesters and log suppliers that engage in SFI principles and activities.
Individual companies have also initiated landowner-assistance programs (LAPs) that provide technical and financial assistance to owners of nonindustrial private forests. Historically, these programs involved agreements in which companies providing services had "first-refusal" rights to buy the mature timber or at least bid on the timber. In 1994 and 1995, nearly 11,000 landowners received assistance via LAPs (over 3,500 occurring in Louisiana and South Carolina), an increase of 47 percent over 1993 and 1994 levels. Companies also assist landowners with the preparation of forest-management plans and, in many cases, provide them with seedlings for regeneration. In 1994 and 1995, over 72 million seedlings were provided (at no cost) by the forest-products industry (Heissenbuttel 1996).
Because the industrial programs are private, governmental assistance is limited. However, these programs may seek governmental assistance in accessing and disseminating technical and program information. Government also might support initial development of various industry initiated programs, for example timber harvester certification and registration programs (MacKay et al. 1996).
Nonprofit organizations have initiated a number of programs that directly or indirectly involve nonfederal forests. Indirectly, the educational and assistance programs of these organizations influence the way in which owners of nonfederal forest manage their property. Directly, many conservation organizations own and manage forests and related property. The Nature Conservancy, for example, operates the largest private system of nature sanctuaries in the world: 1.3 million acres in the United States is under conservancy ownership or conservation easement. Similarly, the National Audubon Society owns and manages 100 sanctuaries that encompass 150,000 acres of wide-ranging habitat. Some nonprofit organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society,