Certification & Accreditation
Impartial, objective and credible certification is the hallmark of any certification system.
PEFC is the only global forest certification system that strictly separates its activities in standards development from certification and accreditation to assure the independence of these processes and to avoid potential conflicts of interest or bias.
PEFC uses the internationally-recognized requirements for certification and accreditation defined by the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
Requirements for Certification Bodies and Procedures
Certification of compliance with PEFC-endorsed standards is not carried out by PEFC itself, but by independent third parties, accredited certification bodies.
Certification bodies also perform annual surveillance audits and periodic re-assessment audits to proactively verify that a certified forest owner or company maintains compliance with PEFC requirements.
To ensure independence and impartiality, PEFC requires certification bodies to be independent from the standards development process and the entity they are certifying. Other requirements include:
- Compliance with ISO/IEC 17021:2006 and/or ISO Guide 65:1996. ISO Guide 65 specifies, among others, that certificates can only be granted after non-compliance has been corrected.
- Technical competence in forest management and its economic, social and environmental impacts and/or in forest-based product procurement and processing, and material flows in different stages of processing and trading.
- Auditors of certification bodies must meet the criteria for quality and environmental management systems auditors as defined in ISO 19011:2002.
- Must be accredited by national accreditation bodies
Requirements for Accreditation Bodies
Accreditation serves as a quality-control mechanism to ensure the credibility of the work of certification bodies.
Accreditation bodies independently evaluate the work of certification bodies and assess them to demonstrate their competence, impartiality and performance capability.
PEFC requires national accreditation bodies to comply with ISO/IEC 17011:2004 to ensure that they operate in a consistent, comparable and reliable manner worldwide.
Accreditation bodies need to be members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the world association of accreditation bodies.
Public Availability of Information
The credibility of any forest certification system depends on the robust implementation of certification requirements. Although PEFC's safeguard mechanisms follow the best practices developed by ISO, it is clear that errors cannot be eliminated completely.
To minimize risk, PEFC requires that summaries of certification reports on the auditee's conformity with the forest management standard be made publicly available.
Furthermore, information about all issued certificates, including information about suspended, withdrawn and expired certificates, is publicly available on the PEFC website.
CERTIFICATION AND ACCREDITATION PROCEDURES - ANNEX 6
PEFC Council recognised certifications for forest management and chain of custody, rely on international certification and accreditation procedures as defined in the documentation of the International Standardization Organisation (ISO) and European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) as well as in the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
This document defines the certification and accreditation procedures for forest and chain of custody certifications adopted and considered credible and reliable by the PEFC Council. The PEFC Council does not set any requirements regarding the auditing and decision making in certification or accreditation. However, it may issue PEFC-trademark licenses only against specified types of certifications.
This document was adopted by the General Assembly of the PEFC Council on 22 November 2002 and amended on 31 October 2003, 11 April 2005, 28 October 2005, 27 October 2006 and 5 October 2007.
ISO/IEC 17021:2006 contains principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of the audit and certification of management systems of all types (e.g. quality management systems or environmental management systems) and for bodies providing these activities. Certification bodies operating to this International Standard need not offer all types of management system certification.
Further information is available on the ISO website.
Certification and Accreditation Procedures (Annex 6)
Administration of PEFC Scheme (PEFC GD 1004:2009)
ISO/IEC Guide 65 - General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems
Specifies general requirements for third-party operating a product certification system.
ISO/IEC 17011 - Conformity Assessment - General Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Conformity Assessment Bodies
Specifies general requirements for accreditation bodies assessing and accrediting conformity assessment bodies (CABs). It is also appropriate as a requirements document for the peer evaluation process for mutual recognition arrangements between accreditation bodies.
ISO/IEC 17021 - Conformity Assessment - Requirements for Bodies Providing Audit and Certification of Management Systems
Contains principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of the audit and certification of management systems of all types (e.g. quality management systems or environmental
management systems) and for bodies providing these activities.
ISO 19011 - Guidelines for Quality and/or Environmental Management Systems Auditing
Provides guidance on the principles of auditing, managing audit programmes, conducting quality management system audits and environmental management system audits, as well as guidance on the competence of quality and environmental management system auditors.
ISO 19011:2002 provides guidance on the principles of auditing, managing audit programmes, conducting quality management system audits and environmental management system audits, as well as guidance on the competence of quality and environmental management system auditors.
Further information is available on the ISO website.
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Non-compliances with certification requirements are a serious matter. Report any complaints to the respective certification body.