Requirements & Criteria
PEFC uses the definition of sustainable forest management (SFM) initially developed by Forest Europe in 1993 and subsequently adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations:
"The stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, 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."
Although many forests may be sustainably managed, the best independent proof of this is through impartial and credible third-party accredited certification. PEFC promotes this independent certification and provides assurance mechanisms to demonstrate to consumers that the wood used in their products comes from sustainably managed forests.
Unique in the world of forest certification, PEFC's forest management requirements are based on broad societal consensus expressed in globally recognized intergovernmental, multi-stakeholder processes and guidelines involving thousands of interested parties.
These are ongoing processes supported by 149 governments in the world and covering 85% of the world's forest area which reflect and will continue to reflect global society's understanding of SFM.
PEFC supplements the principles, criteria and indicators derived from these international processes with additional requirements, developed through multi-stakeholder processes to make them operational as performance measures in the forest.
In line with its roots in small and family forestry, and its values of rural development and as the certification system of choice for small-forest owners, PEFC was the first global system to require compliance with all fundamental ILO conventions as early as 2001, setting new benchmarks for social issues, especially in rural social settings.
Obtaining PEFC Sustainable Forest Management certification demonstrates that management practices meet requirements for best practice in sustainable forest management, including:
- Biodiversity of forest ecosystems is maintained or enhanced
- The range of ecosystem services that forests provide is sustained
- they provide food, fibre, biomass and wood
- they are a key part of the water cycle, act as sinks capturing and storing carbon, and prevent soil erosion
- they provide habitats and shelter for people and wildlife; and
- they offer spiritual and recreational benefits
- Chemicals are substituted by natural alternatives or their use is minimized
- Workers' rights and welfare are protected
- Local employment is encouraged
- Indigenous peoples' rights are respected
- Operations are undertaken within the legal framework and following best practices
These requirements are part of the PEFC Sustainability Benchmark, a set of over 300 criteria that form the basis against which national certification systems are assessed during PEFC endorsement.
National systems are required to meet or exceed all criteria.
Covers requirements for forest management standards applicable to all types of forests.
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Non-compliances with certification requirements are a serious matter. Report any complaints to the respective certification body.