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Double forest certification on the rise, joint PEFC/FSC data shows

Almost 69 million hectares (ha) approximately 16 percent of all certified forests globally are double certified to both the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest certification schemes according to 2016 PEFC/FSC data jointly published by the organisations.

Japan is a forest rich nation with an around 25 million hectare (ha) estate. However, annual harvesting volumes are only one sixth of annual increment due to steep terrain and a lack of forest road infrastructure that make domestic roundwood expensive compared to imports.

Japan is a forest rich nation with an around 25 million hectare (ha) estate. However, annual harvesting volumes are only one-sixth of annual increment due to steep terrain and a lack of forest road infrastructure that make domestic roundwood expensive compared to imports. Japan joined PEFC in 2014 and its Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) national forest certification system was endorsed by PEFC International in June 2016.

Almost 69 million hectares (ha) approximately 16 percent of all certified forests globally were double certified to both the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest certification schemes in 2016. This is an increase of 30 million ha compared to data collected by PEFC in 2012 according to a joint statement.

Double certification exists because foresters in different parts of the world have chosen to use both PEFC and FSC certification for their forest management units to prove their sustainable forest management (SFM) practices.

Double certification is a common feature now in several countries, often in response to the existence of different market demands for certified material. FSC notes that any forest that is FSC certified, double or not, is implementing the FSC requirements, which is the most important result in light of our mission, said Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC.

Market access is one reason for double certification and Ben Gunneberg CEO of PEFC International says that companies have a role to play: by accepting both PEFC and FSC, they remove the pressure on forest owners to double-certify and help focus financial resources on expanding certification to forests that are not yet certified to either system.

From a global point of view, resources invested in certifying already certified forest area are resources that are not invested in certifying new forest area as sustainably managed. Our common goal should be to expand sustainable forest management and to increase the availability of certified forest products. Adding one label on top of another label doesn’t help us in achieving this objective, said Gunneberg

429 million ha of forest certified

However, another consequence of double certification is that certified forest area appears in both the PEFC and the FSC statistics. From a statistical point of view, this poses a challenge for the calculation, in several countries, for the total national certified area, as well as the total global certified area, as adding up both certified forest area leads to inflated figures.

In a bid to address this issue, PEFC and FSC have agreed to work together to provide official more accurate and mutually agreed on estimates for the total global certified area on an annual basis. With the agreement, FSC and PEFC also wish to avoid misunderstandings about the current statistics on forest certification when the data from FSC and PEFC are added up.

The mutually agreed data on double certification provides reliable information on the extent of the total global certified forest area to intergovernmental processes and global initiatives such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other interested parties.

At the end of 2016, PEFC reported a total certified are of 301 million ha and FSC reported 196 million ha for a combined area of 497 million ha. The two organisations conclude that at the end of 2016, almost 69 million ha or 16 percent of the global certified forest area are double certified, and the total global certified area is in fact 429 million ha.

Furthermore, the data collected for 2016 shows that double certification exists in 28 countries. There are no agreed figures for previous years, but FSC accepts estimates of double certification produced by PEFC that indicate 39 million ha were double certified in 2012 in 24 countries.

This agreement changes nothing in the realities of FSC certification and how it compares to PEFC, but we will now be able to offer reliable figures on total certification to governments, researchers and other stakeholders, said Carstensen.

 

About PEFC and FSC

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, PEFC is an independent, not‐for‐profit organisation promoting sustainable forest management through the certification of forests and the products that come from them. This is done through two separate but linked processes:

  • Sustainable Forest Management certification assures that forests are managed in line with challenging environmental, social, and economic requirements – balancing people, planet and profit.
  • Chain of Custody certification tracks wood from sustainable sources to the final product. It demonstrates that each step of the supply chain is closely monitored through independent auditing to ensure that unsustainable sources are excluded.

In addition to enabling companies to sell and label sustainably sourced, PEFC‐certified wood, Chain of Custody certification also offers an efficient mechanism for companies to demonstrate alignment with the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). Certification is only awarded after independent third party audits have verified compliance with PEFC’s globally recognised Sustainability Benchmarks.

Headquartered in Bonn, Germany FSC International is an independent, not‐for‐profit organisation promoting environmentally and socially.sustainable forest management through the certification of forests and forest-derived products including non-wood. This is done through FSC forest management and Chain of Custody (CoC) standards:

FSC forest management standards are developed at an international level and are then adapted to individual countries’ legal, social, and geographical settings, through national standards. Some elements of FSC certification, for example, controlled wood, have standards of their own.

  • FSC forest management certification is awarded for responsible management of a forest or plantation area.
  • FSC chain-of-custody certification tracks FSC-certified material such as wood and other tree-based products, sourced from forests to the store.
  • FSC trademark licensing is offered to organisations that cannot or may not wish to become certified but may still want to promote FSC-labelled products or FSC certification as a framework.

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