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Progress on Forest Certification schemes

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Joined: 01 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 05 9:40 am    Post subject: Progress on Forest Certification schemes  Reply with quote    

Defra Press release


Two forest certification schemes are adopting new standards in response to the government's requirements for timber and wood products to come from legal and sustainable sources.

The government has also announced that it intends to undertake regular reviews of all the certification schemes assessed, including reviewing comments from interested parties, and that it will seek to improve the assessment criteria in the light of experience.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) now requires more involvement with stakeholder groups and greater transparency. National bodies will have to implement changes to their standards and procedures and the government will review their progress around the end of 2005. In the meantime, government buyers will be able to continue accepting PEFC certificates as assurance that they are purchasing timber from sustainable sources.

The North American Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) has introduced a chain of custody system that suppliers to government departments can use to identify the percentage content of timber from SFI managed forests and so assure buyers that the timber is from a sustainable source.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley said:

"The government and industry are together making good progress towards transforming the market for legal and sustainable timber. Being able to use four major forest certification schemes to provide assurance greatly increases the prospect of obtaining competitive bids for our preferred choice of legal and sustainable timber. This is good news for environmentally sound forest management.

"The changes have yet to be tested in practice. PEFC is on probation until it has demonstrated to our satisfaction that its national organisations are all following the new standards. We will also be watching to see that only those SFI certificates that confirm the required percentage of sustainable timber are accepted by government buyers."

The two schemes join the Canadian Standards Association and Forest Stewardship Council schemes in providing assurance of both legal and sustainable timber.


Notes for editors

1. In November 2004 the government announced that of the five forest certification schemes assessed against government contract requirements only two (FSC and CSA) gave assurance of legal and sustainable timber sources. The other three (PEFC, SFI and MTCC) passed the test for assuring legal sources.

2. Supplying timber from legal sources is a standard condition of UK government contracts. Supplying timber from sustainable sources is optional but those that offer it are given preference when bids are evaluated, so it is important that the assurance given is credible before any bidder is given a competitive advantage.

3. PEFC and SFI made changes to their scheme standards and asked to be re-assessed. Both schemes were judged to meet the government requirements for sustainability. NGOs have always supported the FSC scheme and were concerned at the prospect of the UK government equating the PEFC and SFI schemes with FSC. The government did not carry out a peer review of the five schemes and does not seek to compare the schemes' relative merits. The assessment was based on a review of scheme documentation and published information; on the ground performance was not examined.

4. The aim was to determine whether each one of the schemes provided credible assurance that government contract requirements are satisfied. Government contract requirements for legal and sustainable timber differ from the various standards and criteria set by certification schemes, industry, NGOs and other stakeholders.

The original assessment was made on the basis of operational scheme standards. Changes promised or in transition did not count. We welcome changes made to the scheme standards now approved by the government but on condition that a decision would be reversed should changes not be implemented fully within a reasonable time frame.

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