European forestry scheme seeks NGO support

Certification scheme representing smaller owners seeks broader mandate, agrees logo

The organisers of a new European forest certification and labelling scheme stressing the interests of smaller forest owners have appealed to NGOs to take part in consultations about its final shape.

“We want to attract as wide a group of stakeholders as possible to maximise public support,” a spokesperson for Finland’s Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners told ENDS Daily. The union is one of the prime movers behind the formation of the pan-European forest certification scheme (PEFC), which is to be formally launched in Paris in June.

The PEFC’s backers want the scheme to be a credible alternative to the global Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme. Set up under the auspices of the World Wide Fund for Nature, this has enjoyed strong support from other NGOs. It has also attracted a string of new clients among large forest owners and retail groups in recent months (ENDS Daily 21 January). But the PEFC says it is too expensive for smaller owners and does not give them an adequate say in decision-making.

Some NGOs have been highly critical of moves to form the PEFC, arguing that one strong scheme will be more successful in promoting sustainable management of forests than several competing ones. But the PEFC is urging participating national forestry bodies to include NGOs alongside representatives from industry, government and trade in delegations to its next meeting in Germany next month.

Solid progress, meanwhile, was reported on other topics discussed at the last PEFC meeting in Segovia, Spain, last week. Members have decided on a logo to be displayed on timber and other goods produced in accordance with the scheme. A provisional budget and the establishment of a secretariat in Brussels were also agreed. One of the main outstanding issues is the drafting of regulations to ensure effective chains of custody, so that goods on sale can be certified as originating from forests managed according to sustainable principles. This will include rules dealing with the inclusion of recycled material in, for example, paper.

Follow Up:
Finnish Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, tel: +358 9 131151.

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