Forest certification puts down further roots

European scheme nearing readiness to issue first certificates, as global rival cements UK links

Finland and Sweden look set to become the first countries to have their privately owned forests certified as sustainably managed under a new industry-inspired scheme launched earlier this year (ENDS Daily 1 July). Both countries handed in fully fledged national certification schemes for endorsement by the Pan-European Forestry Certification Scheme (PEFC) at its general assembly in Prague last week. Associations from Denmark, Latvia and Slovakia also signed up as members, bringing the total number of countries participating to 15. Much of the meeting was taken up with drafting details of "chain of custody" clauses to ensure that timber carries on being managed in a sustainable way throughout processing until it arrives at the point of sale. This work will continue at the next PEFC summit in February in Luxembourg, where the organisation hopes to establish a permanent secretariat by the end of this month. PEFC has still to appoint board members representing NGOs, retailers and labour unions - which have traditionally been strong in their support for the rival, global Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme. But it says it is "not in a hurry" since these bodies are already involved in drafting national standards. The FSC, meanwhile, has taken a further step forward by approving the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme, launched in June, as an equivalent standard (ENDS Daily 3 June). This will enable products certified by UKWAS to bear the FSC logo, as long as they have been audited by an FSC-accredited verification company.

Follow Up:
PEFC, tel: +44 131 538 7111; FSC, tel: +52 951 46905.

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