Paul Trianosky (’83 B.S. forestry) has devoted his career to the belief that sustainable forestry management promotes conservation values. As chief conservation officer for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI), Trianosky works to develop conservation standards and programs for landowners and companies who want to become engaged in conservation efforts.

The nonprofit Sustainable Forestry Initiative began in 1994 with the goal of providing certification to forest lands committed to responsible management practices. The organization works to promote sustainable practices in forestry by helping landowners make good choices to promote conservation values. “Customers who buy products with our label are assured that they come from forests managed at the highest quality level,” Trianosky explained.

Trianosky’s journey toward combining forest management with conservation was a long one. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he spent time working as a forester for both the Chesapeake Corporation and the Virginia Department of Forestry, but found that something was missing. “I felt the strong desire to engage with conservation efforts on a deeper level,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘what should my contribution be?’”

This desire to make a meaningful contribution prompted Trianosky to enroll in graduate school. After earning a master’s of environmental management from Duke University, he worked for The Nature Conservancy for almost 20 years, including leadership roles in forest conservation strategies, before circling back to his roots in forest management with the American Forest Foundation and then the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

In addition to developing certification programs, Trianosky is also responsible for SFI’s Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, which encourages institutions and nonprofits to engage in projects promoting responsible forest management and conservation.

For Trianosky, providing others with the tools and knowledge to appreciate conservation initiatives is more than a career — it is a passion. “The best part of my job is developing collaborative relationships and bringing together individuals, conservation organizations, and companies to achieve common conservation goals.”

“SFI’s work connects from the work on the ground all the way to the brand owners and consumers who encounter our labeled products,” he continued. “I get to interact with everyone in between.”

Trianosky relies on the credibility and knowledge he gained during his time at Virginia Tech for success on the job. “It’s all about the technical abilities I developed there,” he said. “Not everyone who does conservation understands forestry, but I can really appreciate those approaches now.”