A leap forward for sustainable forest management and smallholders
14 November 2018 PEFC system news
Today was a future defining day for PEFC, as the PEFC General Assembly voted on the approval of our revised Sustainable Forest Management and Group Forest Management Certification benchmark standards. We are delighted to announce that both standards were approved.
Approval by the PEFC General Assembly is the final step in the development and revision of our standards. The revision of these two benchmark standards began in 2016, and it has taken the input of numerous experts and hundreds of stakeholders to reach this point. But the work doesn’t stop there – now comes the implementation process!
So what has changed?
Sustainable Forest Management
The PEFC Sustainable Forest Management benchmark is at the core of what we do. It provides the basis for the requirements that forest owners or managers must meet to achieve PEFC certification at local level.
This new benchmark extends the impact of PEFC certification beyond forests and enhances its contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have expanded the social requirements to include minimum wages for forest workers, equal opportunities for employment and non-discrimination, and promote gender equality. There are also enhanced provisions designed to safeguard the interests of indigenous peoples.
With the inclusion of Trees outside Forests (TOF), PEFC certification will become accessible to the millions of farmers and smallholders that do not own or manage forests, but rather trees on agricultural or settlement land that are currently outside the scope of certification.
Group Forest Management Certification
This benchmark defines the general requirements for forest certification systems with group certification, enabling the certification of a number of forest owners under one certificate.
Group certification works through a combination of internal and external auditing. As smallholders can pool resources and jointly apply for certification, costs are substantially lower, helping make certification accessible. However, this means that internal auditing must work flawlessly.
The revised benchmark provides an innovative framework for internal monitoring and auditing in certified groups. This includes improved requirements for internal auditing, such as risk based sampling groups and minimum sample size, as well as strengthening the management system of the group itself.
This framework provides additional safeguards assuring compliance of everyone within a group with PEFC requirements, while enabling smallholders to benefit from affordable certification.