Nordics to pioneer European forest certificate

Public consultation launched on first three national schemes applying to join PEFC

Three national sustainable forestry certification schemes applying to join the Pan-European Forest Certification (PEFC) initiative have launched a public consultation and expert assessment exercise, to help strengthen confidence.

Consultants hired by the PEFC will assess programmes put forward by Finland, Norway and Sweden (ENDS Daily 8 November). The public will also be invited to comment. "[This] is an important step in fulfilling the objective of promoting sustainable forest management," PEFC chairman Henri Plauche Gillon said after a meeting in Luxembourg last week finalised rules for establishing that labelled timber comes from sustainably managed forests. "PEFC believes that everyone's views should be heard."

Officials hope the first PEFC logos will be awarded soon. "We could see 25-30m hectares certified to the PEFC by the end of 2000," Mr Plauche Gillon predicted. The 13.5m hectares already certified under the Finnish national scheme are expected to rise to 22m by year-end. The current figure for Norway is 3.5m hectares, and in Sweden 1m. The anticipated rapid growth in use of the PEFC logo could pitch the scheme into headlong competition with the global Forest Stewardship Council, which has certified 9m hectares in Sweden.

Environmental NGOs are sceptical about whether PEFC is as effective in representing wider stakeholder interests as the FSC. These doubts were fuelled by recent claims that Norwegian forest products were certified under the national scheme despite serious violations of sustainable management principles (ENDS Daily 22 February). A PEFC official stressed today that "it is the transparency of the system which is currently under review, rather than its implementation."

Follow Up:
Details of the three Nordic schemes are posted on the website of the PEFC, tel: +352 26 25 90 59. The deadline for comments is 20 March.

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