Swiss "breakthrough" on forest certification

Industry, NGOs, agree to work together to develop common sustainable forestry label

The Swiss environment agency has succeeded in brokering an agreement between the forestry industry and environmental NGOs to develop a single national sustainable forestry label, the agency announced yesterday. "It's the first time we have managed to get this level of agreement," Marco Zanetti, head of the agency's forestry division told ENDS Daily today. The "breakthrough" was reached at a meeting on Wednesday attended by associations representing forestry owners, forest industries and forestry directors of Swiss cantons, as well as environmental groups the World Wide Fund for Nature and Pro Natura. The aim of the process is to reduce certification costs for industry and potential consumer confusion by merging two existing labelling schemes. These are the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which has schemes running in several EU countries, and a Swiss quality management standard known as the "Q" label, which was developed by foresters opposed to the FSC. "We think that one label would be better than two," said Mr Zanetti. Under the deal, all sides have reached outline agreement on national criteria for good forest management. The environment agency will now examine how the two labelling schemes can be "unified" in a six-month pilot programme.

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