FSC celebrates boom in forest certification

Global sustainable forestry body announces new advances at London trade fair

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) today claimed that global standards for sustainable forestry had come of age, at a conference and trade fair held in London. In a review of progress made since the body's launch in 1993, the FSC said that its founders could "allow themselves a few moments of quiet satisfaction" at what had been achieved.

According to the FSC, the area of forests certified as sustainably managed under its standards had risen to nearly 17.8m hectares world wide by the end of May. Some 12.8m hectares, or nearly three quarters of the total, is in Europe, with Sweden and Poland leading the way. More than 40% of Sweden's productive forest was now certified, the organisation said, sparking a "revolution in forest management".

Several new certification initiatives were announced. They include FSC certificates for one of Sweden's largest pulp mills and a large saw mill, both operated by SCA. The installations will produce 400,000 tonnes of FSC pulp and 120,000 cubic metres of FSC sawn timber, the organisation said. Latvia's state forestry organisation, meanwhile, announced plans to certify half of its 2.8m hectares of forests by 2002, while the governor of the Brazilian state of Acre said it would certify nearly 4m hectares.

In another notable development, Stefan Wirtén of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation called at the meeting for Swedish forestry owners who have rejected the FSC in favour of the rival pan-European forest certification (PEFC) scheme to think again. The decision of some foresters to participate in the PEFC was "regrettable," Mr Wirtén said. "I sincerely hope that all parties in Sweden...are now prepared to enter into serious discussions on how we can arrive at a single Swedish standard," he concluded.

Follow Up:
FSC, tel: +52 951 46905. See also the World Wide Fund for Nature's website, Forests4Life and information on the WWF certification trade fair.

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