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Facts on Forests and Forestry

 
  NEW: Read GreenFacts' new Digest on Forests:
 

1 Introduction – Measuring progress towards sustainable forest management
2 How much forest is there on the planet and at what rate is it disappearing?
3 How can forests affect climate change?
4 What is the biological diversity of the world’s forests?
5 How healthy are the world’s forests?
6 What products are extracted from forests?
7 What are the protective effects of forests?
8 What are the economic and social benefits of forests?
9 Are forests managed in a sustainable way?
10 Conclusions

 
  A faithful summary of the "Global Forest Resources Assessment"
  produced in 2005 by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). More...
 

 

 

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7. What are some of the ways in which forests are being managed today?


There are many different approaches to the management of forests. Management systems are directed toward enhancing production of a mix of desired products or services from a forest ecosystem. Most commonly, management is directed towards the production of timber or pulp, but other management objectives include wildlife habitat, watershed protection and erosion control, fuel wood, non timber forest products such as resins or mushrooms, and forest grazing for livestock.

At its most basic, forest management involves no more than a decision to keep an area of forest free of any human activity. More active forest management systems generally follow a plan of harvesting, planting, protection and maintenance activities which is drawn up for the area of forest in question.

The key elements of a forest management plan involve specifications for ways in which a forest will be harvested; the time period during which regeneration and regrowth will take place (rotation); whether or not the forest will be allowed and encouraged to regenerate naturally or whether it will be replanted; the species mix to be used in the case of planting; spacing between trees (which may be controlled by thinning during the rotation, or by the space between planted seedlings, or a combination of both); and pruning or other manipulations during the rotation. ‘Silviculture’ is the science of manipulating forest vegetation in the course of management in order to achieve the goals of the management plan.

 
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7.1. Does forest management have a long history?

Humans have always used their knowledge about trees and forests to obtain products and services from the forest. Forest management has a long history that predates the industrial or capital-intensive forest management systems which are now dominant.

There are many records of traditional and ‘indigenous’ forest management systems with which people have managed forestlands sustainably for centuries. Indigenous systems vary depending on the type of forest (tropical or temperate being the most common), the climate, slopes, markets for forest products and the cultural significance of forests. Some systems are integrated with farming systems (see ‘Agroforestry’ below), some are designed purely for timber production, and some provide a wide range of products and services. Some of these systems are still actively practiced and others can only be reconstructed from historical evidence. Most of these management systems were not recognized by the conventional forestry profession until very recently.

In Central and South America, there is archaeological evidence that forest-based systems were the economic basis for a culture such as the Maya for example.

A well-documented Indigenous Peoples’ web site refers to the forest-based Maya civilization in Central America with some information:
External linkhttp://www.indians.org/welker/maya.htm

Although some archaeologists disagree, some of the biodiversity visible today is the result of the selection, protection and even planting of certain favored species by these pre-Columbian cultures (see section above on ‘Natural Forests’).

Professor Clark L. Erickson, one of the foremost archaeologists working in the Bolivian Amazon describes some of his discoveries on his personal web site:
External linkhttp://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~cerickso/fishweir/articles/Expedition2.htm

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Japan closed itself to international trade. During this period, the population increased significantly, and there was considerable expansion of agricultural land. Nevertheless, Japan developed policies and intensive forest management systems which ensured a regular and adequate supply of timber without extensive deforestation.
See: Conrad Totman. 1989. The Green Archipelago: forestry in pre-industrial Japan. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London. University of California Press

When considering the sustainability of different forest management systems, it is important to remember that harvesting forestland does not in itself necessarily imply the loss of forest. Forests can and do return when allowed to or when there is sufficient input in the form of planting and management. By the 19th century, Switzerland reached a stage of serious deforestation. One century later, it is estimated that more than 30% of the country is covered by forest, more than any other Alpine country.
For a brief illustrated history of Swiss forests see:
External linkhttp://www.berge2002.ch/exp/enc/e/living/forests/forest_history.html

Similar observations have been made for several other countries and regions, nearly all in temperate regions, where a shift from a largely rural population to a largely urban population has been accompanied by regrowth and a recovery in forest area.
External linkhttp://www.lib.duke.edu/forest/Publications/amforests.html

 
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7.1.1 What are the origins of today's conventional forest management systems?

"What has evolved to become ‘conventional’ forest management as practiced in the commercial forest sector is based on systems developed in 17th and 18th centuries in northern Europe (especially Germany and France) and later extended to North America.

These systems were based on:

  • the manipulation of forests to meet a planned objective
  • the ownership of land and forests by an individual or a clearly identified legal property owner (which could be the state) and a management institution responsible for planning, making decisions, and implementing management plan.
  • actions taken to maximize the production of wood biomass
  • the ecology of temperate forest ecosystems - limited number of species which are relatively accessible to the managers
 
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7.1.2 Is conventional forest management applicable everywhere?

This model of forest management has proved to be problematic when applied in other contexts where there may be:

  • large areas of land, often with difficult access (i.e. Amazon / Kalimantan, Borneo)
  • a high diversity of species - commercial species may be scattered at low densities over a wide area
  • places where forests may not be owned by a clearly defined owner or manager. Or where claims to ownership are contested, particularly where a state claims ownership and then allocates rights to others (concessions)
  • places where people live in or near a forest and depend on it for their livelihoods.
 
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7.2. What strategies could help protecting forests?

Worldwide concern at the loss of forests is leading to new approaches to forest management to reduce the loss and degradation of forests and to address conflicts.

WRI has a listing of web sites with information on new directions in management:
External linkhttp://www.wri.org/wri/ffi/internet/frst-gen.htm

Changes in forest management follow three main strategies described below.

 
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7.2.1. Could forest policies limit loss and degredation?

"In addition to attempts to enforce stricter regulations on harvesting and on requirements to reforest after harvesting, some countries have recently banned logging in order to limit the area of forest lost each year.

Thailand and China imposed complete logging bans in the late 1990s following devastating floods in both countries. On the west coast of the USA, the Federal Forest Service has imposed restrictions on harvesting old growth forest in order to protect the habitat of endangered wildlife species. Studies of the impacts of logging bans show mixed results, however. In some cases, a logging ban has increased pressure on forests in neighboring countries. In other cases, a logging ban does appear to have provided greater protection for areas of forest at risk from excessive exploitation. It has also been difficult for local people in some areas to adjust to the loss of a source of revenue.

A FAO report published in 2001 on logging bans in New Zealand, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam concluded that logging bans have, in some cases, stopped or slowed deforestation in the country that imposed the ban. But on a broader regional, or global scale, logging bans may not have significantly slowed deforestation:

"Destructive logging practices may be slowed or stopped by effective bans. But ineffective implementation has often contributed to further deforestation and degradation through the lack of enforcement and control, and through the inadvertent creation of perverse incentives and impacts. Frequently, unanticipated impacts and perverse incentives have risen both within the country imposing harvesting restrictions, as well as in neighboring countries or new emerging timber exporters as far away as Africa or South America.

…A key conclusion to be drawn from the Asia-Pacific experience is that logging bans are neither inherently good nor bad as natural forest conservation and protection policy instruments. Logging restrictions are simply one set of policy tools available to decision-makers within a spectrum of options and alternatives."
External linkhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6967e/x6967e00.htm#Contents

Some detailed reports are available of pressures placed on neighboring countries and regions by the logging ban in China.
For Siberia:
External linkhttp://forests.org/archive/europe/chdefuel.htm
External linkhttp://www.pacificenvironment.org/timbertrade/map/china/china.htm

For Burma:
External linkhttp://www.wri.org/wri/ffi/burma/timtrade.htm

 
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7.2.2. What is the evolution in the guiding principles for sustainability?

There is a growing emphasis throughout the world on building principles of sustainability into guidelines for forest management.

The 1993 Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in Helsinki defined sustainable management as follows (Resolution H 1, D.):

"the stewardship and use of forests and forest land in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems".
(Carried on the web site of the German Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture)
External linkhttp://www.verbraucherministerium.de/englisch/diversity/inhalt.htm

The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), commonly called the Rio Earth Summit, established the principle of ‘Sustainable Development’ to guide national and international actions affecting the environment, including forest management.

Most forest management agencies around the world have declared that they will manage according to the principles of Sustainable Development as outlined at the UNCED conference, but it is still the case that the principles are not always followed in practice.

Arnoldo Contreras-Hermosill, a consultant of the FAO, has written a report on sustainable forest management for the World Bank.
"Towards sustainable forest management: an examination of the technical, economic and institutional feasibility of improving management of the global forest estate".
External linkhttp://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X4107E/X4107E00.HTM

In developing countries, a significant part of the funding available for forest management is provided in the form of loans or grants from international development agencies. Agencies such as the World Bank have been criticized in the past for making loans, or attaching conditions to loans, that have the effect of encouraging deforestation. Since the 1992 Rio conference, most of these institutions have also made commitments to following the principles of sustainable development when making decisions on loans or grants. An example of a stated policy of sustainable development is found on the web site of the IFC (International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group):
External linkhttp://www.ifc.org/enviro/EnvSoc/Safeguard/Forestry/forestry.htm

The World Bank itself is in the final stages of developing a new Forest Policy strategy based on the principles of sustainable utilization. Details of the report are available from the Bank’s web site:
External linkhttp://lnweb18.worldbank.org/ESSD/

There are, however, continuing strong criticisms that these funding agencies are not always enforcing or monitoring their own environmental policies. One of the organizations recognized for its informed criticisms of the World Bank in particular is the Bank Information Center in Washington DC. The Center makes documents available on its website from a range of non-governmental organizations as well original documents from the World Bank and other development Banks.
External linkhttp://www.bicusa.org/

 
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7.2.3 What are some alternative management technologies and systems?

 
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  • Alternative silviculture systems

In keeping with the principles of ‘sustainable management’ there are experiments to move away from conventional forest management and silviculture. This approach is often referred to as ‘ecological forestry’ or simply as ‘new forestry’. ‘ecological forestry’ focuses on mimicking natural processes and functions of forest ecosystems rather than on large-scale manipulations of forest systems and landscapes.

In Germany, an experiment near the city of Lübeck has developed principles and guidelines for ecological forestry. They are described as ‘The Lübeck Model’ in a web site from a Russian forest conservation organization:

"The Lübeck Concept Principles:

  • tend to keep forests as close as possible to natural structures, processes and functions (STURM, 1993)
  • are based on the principle of minimum interference (entropy) and on the precautionary principle
  • realize the economic principle by minimizing the input (cost) to obtain the goals
  • cooperate with interested and affected people and communities
  • define forests as an essential pre-condition for survival and welfare of plants, animals and people (society)."
    External linkhttp://www.forest.ru/eng/bulletin/03/6.html

When applied in practice, these principles require the calculation of allowable harvesting on the basis of careful inventories over ten years, not only of numbers and volume of trees, but also of habitats and forest stands. The principles also require preservation of untouched areas and individual trees for reference purposes, and harvesting systems which involve minimal disturbance to the forest.

Some universities and national forest management agencies are now beginning to develop training programs and forest-wide experiments to test and develop some of the emerging principles and techniques of ecological forestry.

In Canada, the University of Alberta has a program of research and teaching based on a new approach that they describe as "[sustainable forest management] inspired by natural disturbances"
(English:Adobe Acrobat Document http://sfm-1.biology.ualberta.ca/english/pubs/PDF/SP_kneeshaw_en.pdf)
(French:Adobe Acrobat Document http://sfm-1.biology.ualberta.ca/english/pubs/PDF/SP_kneeshaw_fr.pdf)

In practice, these new approaches to forest management have not yet been tested widely on large areas of forest. On a small scale, however, there is reason to believe that ‘ecological forestry’ could produce timber and other forest products in economic quantities, provide employment and avoid some of the environmental problems that have come to be associated with the more conventional approaches to forest management. [see the section below on ‘certification for further information].

For an example of the experience of a small-scale forestry operation in California, see:
External linkhttp://www.pacificforest.org/stewardship/atwork.html

 
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  • Agroforestry

All over the world, people have always included trees in their farming systems. This practice, called ‘agroforestry’, can reduce pressure on remaining forests for forest products, and can provide at least some of the environmental benefits of forests where forest land has been cleared or in agricultural landscapes. In many countries, agroforestry is now considered to be an important part of an overall regional strategy for forest and tree management.

The World Agroforestry Centre – (The International Centre for Research on Agroforestry ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya, carries out research on both the technical aspects of agroforestry and on how agroforestry is used or could be used around the world:

"Put simply, agroforestry is using trees on farms. The World Agroforestry Centre - ICRAF defines agroforestry as a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

… Using trees on farms is an ancient art. For millennia, farmers have nurtured trees on their farm and pasture lands and around their homes. Neither the concept nor the practice of agroforestry is new. But agroforestry researchers are developing that ancient art into a science."
From The World Agroforestry Centre- ICRAF web site:
External linkhttp://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/

It is important to recognize that agroforestry is not a substitute for forests since it is, by definition, a practice which takes place in agricultural landscapes, on land that is not forested. Nevertheless, some traditional agroforestry systems are very extensive and almost certainly have an impact on the local environment as well as producing important products and services for local people. There has been considerable research, for example, on agroforestry systems in the Sahel region of West Africa where trees in the grassland savannahs provide shade, wood for charcoal and a range of fruit, foods, and fibres.

An illustrated article (from Unasylva, 2000 / 1) on the ‘agroforestry parklands’ of West Africa can be found at:
External linkhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/X3989e/x3989e04.htm

 
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  • Revisiting indigenous forest management systems

Forest and natural resources management agencies are becoming more aware of the ways in which different ethnic and cultural groups have managed the forests on which they depend. While these management systems do not always fit the conventional model of ‘scientific forestry’ they have existed and served their users well. These alternative systems of forest management have come to be called ‘indigenous’. They include a number of agroforestry systems (see above) but also include systems of selective harvesting of trees, the protection of trees and forests for ritual purposes (‘sacred forests’) or ‘enrichment planting’ in which preferred species are planted in an otherwise ‘natural’ forest.

The United Nations ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Forests’ has encouraged interest in indigenous forest management systems as one approach to implementing the Convention on Biodiversity (see section on ‘Biodiversity’ above).

"The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in decision II/9(b) on forests and biological diversity, requested the Executive Secretary of the Convention to provide advice and information pertaining to the relationship between indigenous and local communities and forests, as invited by the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests."

In North America there is growing interest in indigenous forest management as many Native American / First Nations groups have received legal and constitutional support for the return of their traditional lands and for their rights to manage those lands. The University of British Columbia has introduced indigenous forest management into its forestry curriculum:
External linkhttp://www.forestry.ubc.ca/firstnat/keynote.html

In Asia, there is also growing interest in the ways in which forests were managed before the introduction of Western forestry systems during the colonial period or during the early twentieth century.

Surveys in southwestern China have shown a rich variety of traditional Chinese forest management systems. For a report on the Southwestern province of Sichuan, see:
External linkhttp://www.nuffic.nl/ciran/ikdm/6-1/focus.html

The Indian Institute of Forest Management maintains a web page tracking information about indigenous forestry (referred to as ‘ethnoforestry’) in India, with worldwide links on the subject of indigenous forest management and ethnoforestry
External linkhttp://www.iifm.org/databank/ef/ethnoforestry.html

One important characteristic of many indigenous systems is that they manage the forest for a wide range of non-timber forest products (NTFP) rather than for timber.

Non-timber forest products can include herbs, fungi, wildlife, medicinal plants, fibre for weaving and for rope:
External linkhttp://www.NTFP.org/definition.html

The FAO has carried out significant research on non-timber forest products.
External linkhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/W3735E/W3735E00.htm

On the ODI website, one can find under the non-timber forest product keyword a list of related articles.
External linkhttp://www.odi.org.uk/fpeg/

In recent times, there has also been a recognition that such forests can attract visitors, and ecotourism—which seeks to promote ‘environmentally and socially responsible tourism’—is increasingly becoming another objective of sustainable forest management.

 
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  • CBNRM / Joint Management / Partnerships

There is no single factor responsible for the loss of forest cover and deforestation, but when decision-making about forest resources is concentrated in state and government agencies often located a long way from the forests themselves, there is a danger that the agencies will not always be able to manage forests effectively. In many places, the agencies’ difficulties are compounded by conflicts between them and local communities who depend on forest resources but who may be excluded from forest resources which have been declared to be under the authority of the agencies.

For some twenty years now, there have been experiments around the world with partnerships in which communities are taking over the management of forest areas from state forest management agencies. These partnerships take different forms and have been given many different names including ‘Community Forestry’, ‘Social Forestry’, and ‘Joint Forestry Management’.

These new institutional frameworks involve approaches designed to involve forest communities in management. Examples include ‘Forest Management Committees’ in which community representatives form a committee to take over management responsibilities with the community receiving some portion of the income derived from the forest; ‘Joint Forest Management’ in which community representatives develop and implement management plans together with the state forest management agency; ‘Forest Users’ Committees’ where representatives of forest users take over management of the forest. There are many different models of community based forest management institutions, but they all share the basic principles outlined in the South African Directorate of Forestry’s statement that:

"Community Forestry's mission is to address the national problem of social deprivation, impoverishment, deforestation and land degradation in all sectors of rural and urban communities through community forestry development."
From the South African Chief Directorate of Forestry Web Site:
External linkhttp://www.dwaf.gov.za/Forestry/Community%20Forestry/

The rationale for community forest management is that people will care for and manage forests effectively if they have a stake in the long-term survival and productivity of the forest. Where a state forest management agency (or a commercial forestry enterprise) controls access to the forest and determines ‘best use’ without taking into account the needs and interests of surrounding communities as well as their historic claims to the forest which often predate the existence of the forest management agency, there is likely to be continuing illegal use of the forest, growing conflict, and continuing loss of forest cover.

Since there are many different models of community-based forest management, there are no reliable statistics available for the total area of forest now under such management systems. A recent report by the CIFOR (the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia) suggests that 25% of forests in the developing world are now legally under the control of indigenous and local groups, but the report recognizes that it is very difficult to give a reliable estimate.

The full report is published by Forest Trends and can be downloaded from:
Adobe Acrobat Documenthttp://www.futureharvest.org/pdf/Final_Report.pdf

In India, the implementation of ‘Joint Forest Management’ (JFM) is now a part of official national policy on forest management. The Tata Institute (an Indian research center) maintains a website tracking information about JFM:
JFM in India (Tata Institute web site)
External linkhttp://www.teriin.org/jfm/jfm.htm

A useful summary of community-based forest management in Central America can be found at the International Network on Forests and Communities (BC):

External linkhttp://www.forestsandcommunities.org/ecosystem.html

The following links are to news articles about community-based forest management activities around the world.

An article from Unasylva, the FAO journal on Forestry (Vol. 51- 2000/1)
External linkhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/X3989e/x3989e07.htm#TopOfPage

A news item announcing the establishment of a Group of Community Forest Producers in Acre and Rondonia in Brazil:
External linkhttp://www.forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=9494

A report from a Community in Mozambique
External linkhttp://www.gta.org.mz/ingmabp.htm

White, Andy and Alejandra Martin. 2002. Who Owns the World’s Forests? Forest Tenure and Public Forests in Transition. Washington D.C., Forest Trends. pp. 6 - 8.

 
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  • Carbon trading

International concern about global climate change has raised the prospect of managing forests as carbon reservoirs (or ‘carbon sinks’) as one strategy to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If plans for international trade in ‘carbon sink credits’ are realized, there might be strong economic incentives to conserve and extend forests rather than to clear them.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international agreement about how to tackle climate change. One of its protocols is the Kyoto Protocol, which includes legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by participating countries.

In the Kyoto Protocols, carbon sink credits are a category of substitute emission quotas. The idea of carbon sinks attempts to use the capacity of forests to store carbon to mitigate climate change. The idea is that new, large-scale tree plantations could be established to increase the earth’s capacity to sequester the carbon dioxide emitted through the burning of fossil fuels.

Advocates of the Kyoto Protocol assert that a system of carbon sink credits could create powerful new incentives for forest activities to enhance carbon sequestration in industrialized countries, and possibly even developing countries.
External linkhttp://www.iucn.org/themes/climate/programmeareas.html

Critics of the use of carbon sink credits, however, argue that the carbon sink trees and soils will release the carbon stored in them well before the fossil fuel emissions they are designed to offset have ceased to heat up the atmosphere, resulting in a long-term increase in global warming action.

Critics also argue that under the system of carbon sink credits proposed in the Kyoto Protocol young, fast-growing trees become more 'valuable' than old forests, which take up carbon more slowly than a new plantation. In this scenario, the current value of old forests as 'storage rooms' of large quantities of carbon is undervalued.
See: "Climate Change: The Forest Connection," on the Fern website.
External linkhttp://www.fern.org/

For more information, download the following WRI reports on climate change and forests
External linkhttp://www.wri.org/forests/getitright.html

External linkhttp://www.wri.org/ffi/climate/

 
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  • Certification

‘Normal’ market forces do not provide incentives to produce timber in an environmentally and socially sustainable way. Producers seek to keep their costs to a minimum–which usually privileges a short-term perspective in planning and management–in order to maximize their profits.

As consumers become more aware of environmental issues and the danger of deforestation, they are also becoming more willing to pay a higher price for timber and wood products which have been produced sustainably.

‘Certified’ timber is timber which comes from forests that have been certified by an independent auditor as meeting certain environmental, economic, and social standards. The auditors monitor production, harvest, transport and processing and issue a recognized label so that consumers can make an informed choice to purchase wood products that are produced by ecologically sound practices. A credible and independently audited certification system creates economic incentives for the producers of timber and wood products to adopt these practices.

The most widely recognized certification system today is managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), established in 1993 and based in Oaxaca, Mexico.
To read the FSC Principles and Criteria, visit:
External linkhttp://www.fscoax.org/html/1-2.html

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) supports certification on the grounds that:

"… whilst the forest industry often plays a key role in forest destruction and degradation, logging need not destroy forests. If timber is removed in an environmentally sensitive way that mimics the natural dynamics of a forest, there may be little adverse impact."
External linkhttp://www.panda.org/resources/publications/forest/cert/

The Natural Resources Defence Council in the USA has prepared a summary of the rationale for forest certification:

  1. What is forest certification?
    "Forest certification is a means of protecting forests by promoting environmentally responsible forestry practices. Forests are evaluated according to international standards and certified as well managed by a qualified independent auditor (or certifier). Wood or wood products from those forests are then labeled so that consumers can identify them."

  2.  
  3. How will certification help protect our forests?
    "Consumer demand for certified forest products will be a powerful incentive for forest managers to adopt more ecologically sound practices, and for retailers and manufacturers to seek out wood from certified forests. In combination with other strategies, including more efficient wood use and the designation of forest reserves, certification is a vital part of protecting our forest heritage."

  4.  
  5. What is the definition of a well-managed forest?
    " A well-managed forest satisfies standards of environmentally, socially and economically sound management. These standards ensure the long-term health and productivity of forests for timber production, wildlife habitat and water quality protection while also providing social benefits such as lasting community employment."
    External linkhttp://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/qcert.asp

There has been rapid acceptance of the concept of forest certification. As of January 2003, FSC had awarded 466 Forest Management Certificates in 56 countries, covering a total certified area of 310,672 km². The FSC website gives regular updates of the expansion of its program. To read the FSC Principles and Criteria, visit:

External linkhttp://www.fscoax.org/html/1-2.html

The success of FSC has led to the creation of other certification systems. The Pan-European Forest Certification Council (PEFC) is a scheme launched in 1999, while in North America the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) scheme also competes with the FSC scheme. Despite attempts to develop mutually recognized criteria for certification schemes, the PEFCS and SFI are based on monitoring of forest management practices by the forest and wood products industry itself rather than on independent third party auditing. This key difference has so far prevented mutual recognition of these schemes.

In the United States, the Meridian Institute has prepared a report comparing the FSC and SFI schemes. The report emphasizes that the key difference between the two schemes is the independent auditing process at the heart of the FSC scheme. A summary of the report can be downloaded from:

Adobe Acrobat Documenthttp://www.certwdmkt.com/certs/MeridExec%20Summary.pdf

The Environmental News Network (ENN) has prepared a summary of the history of the FSC certification process and a brief comparison of the key differences between FSC and the PEFC scheme:

"The World Wide Fund for Nature was instrumental in founding (FSC) in 1993. The initial meetings took in representatives from environmental and conservation groups, the timber industry, the forestry profession, indigenous peoples' organizations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organizations from 25 countries.

The FSC accredits certification bodies that in turn certify forests that meet FSC principles and criteria and other specific standards identified at the national and regional levels.

Landowners approved as abiding by FSC standards such as protection of biological diversity, conservation of the forest's economic resources and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples may advertise their wood as certified by using the FSC logo.

The concept relies on the assumption that informed consumers who care about environmental protection will trust the certification agency and be willing to make purchases of products that carry the label of that agency.

The FSC is growing quickly. The global timber industry’s acceptance of certified wood that meets the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards exploded during the first two months of 2001. In January and February, FSC-accredited certification bodies brought 331 new companies into its program, a 30 percent growth in two months.

There is a competing forest certification group. In 1999, European forest industry organizations launched their own certification system for sustainably produced timber. The Pan-European Forest Certification Scheme is a voluntary private sector initiative that originated with small forest owners in European countries.

With members in 15 countries, PEFC differs from the FSC in that it provides a framework for mutual recognition of national forest certification schemes rather than accrediting certifying organizations itself.
Information about PEFC can be obtained from its web site at:
External linkhttp://www.pefc.org

While PEFC is funded by the forest industry, the FSC is funded by charitable foundations, government donors, membership subscriptions and accreditation fees. To ensure its independence, the FSC does not accept funding from industry.

An International Forest Industries Roundtable proposal for enabling mutual recognition between different forest certification schemes was not approved by the environmental groups that back the Forest Stewardship Council. They believe the council can provide whatever certification is needed by the world's environmentally conscious consumers of wood products."
External linkhttp://www.enn.com/news/

Other references on certification:

The European Forestry Institute provides background information about certification at:
External linkhttp://www.efi.fi/cis/english/background.php

A table comparing the major certification programs in the USA is at:

External linkhttp://www.certifiedwood.org/search-modules/CompareCertSystems.asp

A US-based ‘clearing house’ for information on certification carries a regularly updated selection of analytical papers on the subject:
External linkhttp://www.certwdmkt.com/

 
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23-Oct-2007

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