In keeping with the idea of "Think Globally, Act Locally", PEFC requires that all national standards developed meet PEFC International's Sustainability Benchmarks.
This “bottom-up” approach ensures that standards meet the expectations of stakeholders on the ground, address local conditions, and are consistent with national laws and regulations, while at the same time meeting international benchmarks and being internationally recognized.
This ensures that standards are wholly adaptable to different sets of circumstances.
Forests are highly diverse around the global and adaptability is of major significance in forest management as, for example:
- Sustainable forest management of temperate forests in Europe or North America requires different approaches from that of tropical forests in Africa, Asia or
South Americaas different tree species and different climatic, socio-economic, cultural, and environmental conditions require different management methods.
- Functions and benefits that forests are expected to deliver vary widely. More than 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for their livelihoods, especially in developing countries thereby making shared access to forest resources crucial, while in some developed countries, recreational activities are among the key benefits provided by forests.
- Traditions, culture and management capacities and systems differ both within and among countries.
- Legislative, administrative and governance frameworks and capacities vary between and among countries requiring approaches that make best use of existing structures.
PEFC’s bottom-up approach to forest certification is well placed to respond to these challenges, with standards independently developed and owned by local stakeholders. This ownership is key to the success of forest certification as it empowers local people to manage forests in compliance with the standards in whose development they themselves were involved.
To ensure consistency across all PEFC-endorsed standards, all national systems wishing to be PEFC recognized undergo rigorous independent assessment to ensure their compliance with PEFC’s Sustainability Benchmarks.
This process ensures forests certified under the respective national standards are "certified once, accepted everywhere", which is of vital importance for the trading realities in a globalized world.
PEFC criteria, regulations and guidelines also include provisions for standards development and implementation, and define requirements for stakeholder engagement in standard setting and scheme development; regional and group certification, certification and accreditation procedures, Chain of Custody, Logo Use, and complaints and appeals mechanism.