European guidelines

After the Environmental Conference of Rio de Janeiro (1992), international and regional platforms defined internally accepted sustainable forest management guidelines. Currently the official body dealing with sustainability and protection of the European forest is The Ministerial Conference on Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE).

Europe leads the way

Since the early 1990's, the concept of forest certification has grown rapidly. By mid-2011, certified forests account for nearly 375 million ha worldwide (28% of the world's forest cover suitable for management for wood and non-wood products).

Originally designed to halt tropical deforestation, it has developed most rapidly in Europe, due to high forest management standards and performance. 33% of the world's certified forests are in Europe and 62% of Europe's certified forests are in EU 27 countries, representing 77 million ha - half of all EU 27 forests.

As only a low portion of roundwood entering international trade (15-20% of the total logging volume - with the rest used domestically), certification and labelling alone cannot lead to sustainability in forest management. Effective government control and policy guidance on forest utilization is still imperative for sustaining finite resources.

More than 80 percent of the European forest is already under written management plans or guidelines contributing to sustainable management.

The debate on the use of certified wood and wood products in Europe has become focused on two schemes 'The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes' (PEFC), originally developed to answer the needs of European forest owners, and the 'Forest Stewardship Council' (FSC), set up with the co-operation of WWF.

Many European countries are already using Green public procurement policies to guarantee that wood and wood products come from sustainable forest management, e.g. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands and UK.

It is important to appreciate that over 90% of European wood consumption is sourced from European forest which are characterized as 'generally stable, well managed and in surplus production'. The consumer or specifier can therefore be reasonably sure of the environmental credentials of their product.

Forest Law and Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)

The issue of illegal logging and trade in illegal harvested wood has become the focus of attention both at a European and international level. The EC FLEGT action plan is a key element in this discussion.

The European forest and wood-based industries strongly oppose illegal logging practices and trade in illegally sourced timber. Although the vast majority of industrial logging and trade in wood and wood products within the EU 27 countries is fully legal, the sector pro-has actively supports effective and voluntary actions that will eliminate any nonconformity. It will also take its responsibility concerning the implementation of the ECFLEGT- legislation that will be in place as of March 2013, to stop illegally sourced timber from entering the EU-market.

Certification systems

  • PEFC (Programme for the endorsement of forest certification schemes), in 1999 as the Pan European forest certification founded, operates today. Certified forest area: 200 million hectares (as of 2008).
  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), established in 1993. global working. 90 Million hectares (2008).
  • CSA (Canadian Standards Association), 1973 by the Canadian Standards Council accredited. Certification scheme in Canada. 79.3 Million hectares (2007).
  • SFI (Sustainable forestry initiative), founded in 1995, certification scheme for the United States and Canada. 55.4 Million ha (2007).

The four listed schemes are considered the most developed. In addition, there are corresponding organizations in Australia, Chile, Brazil and Malaysia. CSA and SFI strive for the mutual recognition of their certification with PEFC international.

Forest area by certification scheme in Europe
Forest area by certification scheme in Europe

 
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