Forest certification promotes responsible forestry

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation supports the adoption of impartial and broadly recognised international certification systems. Forest certification can help safeguard the foundations of sustainable forest utilisation and supports international comparability.

Forest certification extends to 85% of Finnish commercial forests. By contrast, only approximately 10% of forests all over the world have been certified.

Two global certification systems, the FSC and the PEFC, are used in Finland. They are based on sustainable forestry criteria, which have been developed in broad-based processes. Some 85% of Finnish forests, which are used for commercial purposes, have been PEFC certified. Interest in FSC certification has been growing in recent years, and the area certified under FSC scheme has recently exceeded 1.5 million hectares, representing 6% of Finnish forests in commercial use. Almost all of Finland’s FSC-certified forests have also been certified under the PEFC scheme.

Forest certification is an effective way to ensure the lawful origins of timber and to combat deforestation

The use and development of forest certification systems, which promote sustainable forestry, can help support the diverse utilisation of forests and sustainable raw material procurement practices on the global scale. Sourcing timber from certified forests is a factor in the quality control management of modern forest industry corporations and serves as a demonstration of their commitment to responsible operating practices. Certifying the origins of wood and the procurement chain is more and more important as the industry internationalises.

The legality of wood and the significance of its origins are topical themes. New EU timber regulations entered into force in March 2013, and subsequently the PEFC and FSC updated their requirements (chain of custody, CoC), so that they can be used to verify the lawful origins of timber.

External evaluations guarantee the quality of certification

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation is working to ensure that forest certification is viewed as positive, supportive of sustainable development and a source of added value on the markets.
The external evaluations, which form the basis of forest certification, help the forest industry and its customers confirm that the economic, social and environmental values of forests are taken into account. Certification ensures that the wood used to make products is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

It is important to keep several reliable certification systems available because this enables the forest owner to choose a system, which is most appropriate for local conditions. Furthermore, competition between systems improves the quality of forest certification and promotes development when combined with open interaction and scientific debate.

Forest certification an aspect of public procurement guidelines in many EU Member States

Guidelines develop public-sector procurement policies by steering purchases in a more environment-friendly direction. The process often also involves an evaluation of how suitable various forest certification systems are to the verification of good forestry practices. This makes it important to ensure that all EU nations recognise the sustainable-development-promoting systems of individual Member States or the EU as a whole. This safeguards the free movement of Member State goods within the single market.

Different certification systems have been recognised by EU Member States as demonstrations of sustainable forestry practices. The focus of discussion should shift from mutual comparisons of different certification systems to the global promotion of sustainable forestry.

Forest certification developing constantly

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation participates actively in the development of forest certification with other stakeholder groups. The Finnish PEFC standard was updated by a broad-based working group and came into force in 2016. PEFC’s global benchmark standards are currently under revision.

The Finnish FSC standard was internationally recognised in January 2011. The FSC’s new international principles and criteria were approved in spring 2012. International generic indicators for the criteria were adopted in spring 2015. Finland’s FSC standard will be updated to conform with the new principles and criteria.

In addition, FSC Finland is conducting a national risk assessment as provided for in the FSC’s controlled wood regulations. The work is based on a decision passed by the 2011 FSC General Assembly, according to which company-developed controlled wood risk assessments will be phased out and the responsibility for national-level risk assessments transferred to national organisations.