Estonia Market Outreach
Estonia was one the first Eastern European countries to initiate a nationally developed forest certification system. As early as 2001, local stakeholders under the leadership of private forest owners set up the Estonian Forest Certification Council (EFCC); the Estonian standard achieved PEFC endorsement in 2008.
Almost 50% of the Estonian forest area is privately owned. More than 80,000 Estonians own forests, though only 5% are organized in associations. Forest owners' associations and cooperatives play a crucial role in sharing knowledge and information about sustainable forest management and are important agents in assisting smallholders and family forest owners to obtain certification. Given the small number of forest owners organized in associations in Estonia, achieving certification of private forest owners has been a challenge.
Raising Public Awareness of PEFC in Estonia
Initial projects by the EFCC therefore targeted private forest owners. A joint pilot project with the Estonian Private Forest Union and the Private Forest Centre to build capacity among private forest owners resulted in some 52,000 hectares of privately owned forests becoming certified. Currently, almost 80% of the Estonian forest area, over 1.8 million hectares, are PEFC certified.
Despite these successes, public awareness of PEFC certification and its benefits remains low, and only two dozen companies have obtained PEFC Chain of Custody certification. Further expansion is required to improve market access for PEFC-certified timber in Estonia.
In collaboration with the Estonian Private Forest Union and with the support of the 2012 PEFC Collaboration Fund, the EFCC has therefore begun to increase its outreach activities through a range of printed materials and participation in various trade shows and fairs. These marketing activities correlate with the revisions of the Estonian national forest certification standard and are expected to pave the way for increased certification and recognition of PEFC in the market place.