PEFC Stakeholder Day shows continued growth of forest certification worldwide

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), held its Annual Stakeholder Day at the North London venue of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) on 4th July. The theme of this year's event was - Delivering Impacts in the Forest, with speakers from the UK, North America, Asia and Europe highlighting the growth of forest certification around the world.

The event was chaired by PEFC International Chairman, Peter Latham, who welcomed participants from a range of sectors including; timber, forestry, paper and board sectors and end users such as contractors, brand owners and retailers.

In his introduction, Peter underlined the importance of certification, and the need for companies to develop procurement policies which recognised both global timber certification schemes - PEFC and FSC. Such policies help increase demand for products from certified forests. He asserted that it was good to have two global schemes, since competition was healthy and led to improvements in both standards. Currently, the global certified forest area stands at 429 million hectares; 70 per cent of which is certified to PEFC-endorsed schemes.

Dr Melvin Gumal from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Malaysia kicked off proceedings. He stressed the Importance of protecting the forest habitat, adding that forest certification helps protect the landscape vital for the survival of both tigers and their prey.

Canadian, Dr Mark Johnston of the Saskatchewan Research Council, explained the key role that forests play in capturing carbon across North American woodlands. A presentation from Ana Rengifo Abbad from Spain, showcased the work that is being undertaken by the forest certification group that her family-owned Dehesas del Guijo farm business is a part of; with some 22,000 hectares of forestland currently certified.

Concluding proceedings for the day was Confor's Andrew Heald, who explained UK forestry's sustainability initiatives. He highlighted the need for continued planting and protection of forestlands for future generations. As the UK is the third largest importer of timber in the world, Andrew said there was an urgent need for additional planting and replanting of forest stocks. He also highlighted an afforestation project currently underway at Jerrah in Stirling, Scotland. This has seen one of the largest woodland creation schemes being developed in recent years, with 1.3m trees being planted, and some 1,000 hectares being developed.

The event concluded with a drinks reception, at which the participants were able to sample some PEFC certified Iberico ham, along with some fine Spanish wines. The event was sponsored by James Latham, The Soil Association, PEFC International and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

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