Caring for our forests globally
National Sites


Biodiversity is a term used to refer to the diversity of life on earth. It includes genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity, and the interactions among them and with their environments.

Forests are among the most biodiverse and valuable terrestrial ecosystems on the planet. In addition to all the species of trees they contain, forests are also home to abundant and complex communities of plants, animals, insects and microorganisms. Their presence and interaction result in many of the significant ecological processes that take place within forests, including pollination, seed dispersal or soil fertilization.

Forest biodiversity forms the basis of many of the values and services that society derives from forests. These values and services include food (berries, mushrooms), fibre, biomass and wood (timber); habitats and shelter for people and wildlife; and spiritual and recreational benefits (hunting).

However, maintaining forest biodiversity is both complex and sensitive. It is being made evermore difficult by increasing human demands and anthropogenic impacts on forest ecosystems.

Forest degradation and deforestation result in serious negative impacts for forest biodiversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that 13 million hectares of forest are lost each year to deforestation, which in itself has a significant impact on species.

Similarly, biodiversity in degraded forests is also negatively impacted resulting in less resilient ecosystems that are less able to adapt to or recover from changing climate conditions.

If forest biodiversity is to be maintained and enhanced, human interactions with forest ecosystems need to be managed with careful attention to resource conservation and sustainability.

PEFC Certification & Biodiversity

PEFC's "act locally, think globally" approach offers substantial benefits and contributes positively to the maintenance and enhancement of global forest biodiversity.

Developing standards nationally means that they can be tailored to the specific local biodiversity, environmental and ecological conditions in a country, and with consideration for local political, socio-economic, cultural and administrative conditions, thereby reflecting and responding to national and local concerns and priorities.

forest-biodiversity2Within PEFC-certified forests, managers must ensure that forest management activities maintain, conserve and enhance biodiversity.

This includes that natural generation is preferred and that native species are favoured in reforestation and afforestation. Forest managers are required to ensure that special key biotopes are protected, harvest levels and forest productivity are balanced, and degraded forest ecosystems are rehabilitated.

As the scientific evidence of potential benefits and dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and its impact on biodiversity remains insufficient and the society has not completed its debate, the PEFC General Assembly has determined that GMO cannot be considered as part of PEFC certified material.

PEFC criteria also stipulate chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides be substituted by natural alternatives or minimized.

Implementing sustainable forest management as defined by PEFC, ensures that forests remain the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, and that society’s forest needs and demands will be met in the long term.