WWF steps up attack on industry forest label

PEFC "not guaranteeing good management," "misleading all stakeholders," says green group

Environmental group WWF today intensified the ding-dong battle between rival sustainable forestry certification schemes, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Pan-European Forest Certification (PEFC), by issuing a detailed indictment of the latter.

According to WWF, the industry-inspired scheme cannot guarantee that timber products come from forests "free of environmental and social conflict" and thus poses "a substantial risk to the credibility of retailers, the timber trade and forest industries".

A chief backer of FSC, the environmental group has long criticised PEFC, but now says that even its own campaigners were surprised by the scale of shortcomings shown in its new analysis. "We knew that PEFC was a one-sided system and that it was deficient in many parts," said Heiko Liedeker of WWF's European forest team, "but we didn't think that there would be so little substance."

In the study and an accompanying position statement, the environmental group lists a series of failings of PEFC. Key allegations include no requirement to verify legal compliance of PEFC-affiliated schemes and a failure to require recognition and protection of high conservation value forests. Others include no recognition of rights of indigenous peoples and no requirement to assess forest management against a measurable performance standard.

The PEFC reacted angrily to WWF's study today, rejecting its criticisms and questioning the independence of its author, whom it claimed to be an ex-employee of WWF. We are "very disappointed and surprised at [the study's] negative approach," PEFC said in a statement. "Rather than contributing to the ongoing development of sustainable forest management it is merely distracting from genuine efforts".

Follow Up:
WWF International, tel: +41 22 364 9111, a press release, the study, and position paper on PEFC; PEFC, tel: +352 26 25 90 59, and press release.

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