A characteristic feature of the forest management and timber trade in all forested world’s continents has been recently an intensive effort on a proper marking of products originating from environment-friendly managed forests - a so called ecological certification of forest products. The new trend is observed also in Europe and in the Czech Republic.
What is PEFC
PEFC Council is an independent non-governmental and non-profit-making organization that has been promoting sustainable forest management by means of forest certification carried out by a third independent party since its foundation in 1999. PEFC (Pan European Forest Certification) ensures for the consumers of wood- and paper-based products mechanisms to provide a sufficient guarantee that by their use they can support sustainable forestry. PEFC is a global roofing organization for the assessment and mutual recognition of self-sustained national certification systems which have come to existence on the basis of a general concensus of all participants. The national systems are built on the basis of intergovernmental processes promoting sustainable forestry. This ever conrinuing process is supported by governments of 149 countries with a total coverage of 85% world’s forests. At the beginning of 2004, PEFC had 29 national members of whom 14 passed through the mutual recognition of national certification systems made by independent consultants. These 14 national systems represent 52 million hectares of forests that produce wood as an ecologically acceptable raw material of versatile use. Other national systems are at various stages of preparation and mutual recognition by the PEFC system.
PEFC Czech Republic
Is an interest grouping whose purpose is the promotion of sustainable forestry and consumption of wood as ecologically renewable resource and wood products, nature conservation and sustainable development of society through PEFS system certification. PEFC CR is one of PEFC Council founders and its main scope of activities consists in:
- the creation and administration of the Czech system of forest certification valid in the territory of Czech Republic and based on principles defined by PEFC Council;
- the development and regular revision of the criteria of sustainable forestry as a component part of the Czech system of forest certification with an aim of the gradual improvement of forest management and condition;
- the development and regular revision of regulations for the certification of wood consumer chain as a component part of the Czech system of forest certification;
- the presentation and promotion of the Czech system of forest certification in the territory of Czech Republic and abroad;
- the ensurance of mutual recognition of the Czech forest certification system namely by means of the PEFC Council, cooperation and coordination of activities with similar certification systems in Czech Republic and abroad;
- the administration of proprietory rights and PEFC logo use in the territory of Czech Republic.
Why to have a forest certified to the PEFC system
Based on requirements, more than 1.9 mil. ha of total forest land (2.64 mil. ha) has been certified a greater part being PEFC-certified and some of estates being certified according to more certification systems. In comparison with other systems PEFC offers the following benefits:
- all consumers of products marked with the PEFC logo are offered a guarantee that all certified forests of owners not only in Europe but also in other countries exhibit a high and mutually comparable standard of sustainable forest management and are subject to a continual process of improval through the system of periodical control audits by an independent third party,
- region status report as a basic part of PEFC system is a good instrument to control sustainable management in the forest with the discussion of environmental, economic and social criteria in forestry being of material and transparent nature and even measurable when meaningful and applicable,
- forest owners who bear a full responsibility for the adherence to the conditions of PEFC certification have a right of co-participation in the decision-making about the system, which gives them a certainty that the conditions cannot be changed without listening to their comments,
- as compared with other certification systems PEFC is acceptable not only for large owners but namely for a great number of small forest owners; regional certification guarantees an uncomplicated, unbureaucratic, transparent and cost-efficient system which does not put an excessive economic load on the forest owners in maintaining their competitiveness and balance of their work; this is how PEFC responses to the existing structure of forest owners in Europe with more than 12 million small forest owners (in Czechia there are about 150 thousand owners with average estates smaller than 2 ha of the forest, whose total forest area amounts to more than 0.5 mil hectares);
- credibility of the PEFC system is regularly subjected to audits by an independent certification authority,
- develops pressure on forest owners to gradually enhance the current status of their properties according to the criteria of sustainable forestry.
Criteria of the forest certification
The ministerial process of forest conservation defined the following six principles defining sustainable forest management:
- Conservation and feasible extension of forest resources, and their contribution to global carbon cycling,
- Preservation of health and vitality of forest ecosystems,
- Conservation and promotion of production functions of the forest,
- Conservation, protection and congruent enhancement of forest system biological diversity,
- Conservation and suitable strengthening of protective functions of the forest (soil protection and water protection functions in particular),
- Preservation of other socio-economic functions of the forest.
Forest certification benefits
Many owners have to decide whether there is a need for them to certify their forests. Certification is a modern market instrument to prove that owners are voluntarily managing their forests in compliance with the standards of sustainable forestry. The certificate is a guarantee for customers that the forest owner has passed through an independent audit and is entitled to use the PEFC certification system logo in marking his/her production. The certification itself helps the forest owner to show that all obligations in ecological, economic and social fields have been met. The certificate brings the forest owner a privilege in marketing his/her products, which also reflects in an increasing demand and in a better access to foreign markets. Last but not least, the certification helps to improve the image of forestry in the eye of the public and to promote the consumption of wood as an environment-friendly material and wood-based products.