China’s national forest certification system achieves PEFC endorsement
28 February 2014 PEFC system news
“The endorsement of the China Forest Certification Scheme by PEFC represents a significant milestone for safeguarding global forests given the importance of the country in the forest products value chain and its substantial forest area,” commented Ben Gunneberg, Secretary General of PEFC International.
“China is not only the world’s largest manufacturer of forest products, but also among the five countries with the largest forest area in the world,” emphasized Mr. Gunneberg. “We understand that China is interested in actively promoting both forest management and Chain of Custody certification to ensure the long-term sustainability of its forest sector, especially considering the millions of people it employs and the natural resources it relies on.”
China currently has the highest afforestation rate of any country in the world, increasing its forest cover from 12% thirty years ago to more than 21% in 2013. The country is continuing to implement policy measures to increase the quality and quantity of its forests and aims to bring forest coverage to 23%, or 223 million hectares, by 2020.
The China Forest Certification Scheme (CFCS) was endorsed by the PEFC General Assembly after demonstrating compliance with PEFC’s globally recognized Sustainability Benchmarks, a suite of requirements for covering a range of issues including standards development, sustainable forest management, Chain of Custody certification as well as certification and accreditation requirements.
“We are proud to be endorsed and part of PEFC, the world’s leading forest certification system,” said Mr. Wang Wei, Chairman of the Chinese Forest Certification Council (CFCC). “PEFC represents best practice in forest management and is unique in considering the needs of the specific forest ecosystems present in a particular country, the legal and administrative frameworks, and the socio-cultural context, which is important for China.”
“This endorsement by PEFC does not only have the potential to substantially increase the demand for, as well as the supply of, PEFC-certified material, but we hope that it will also inspire other countries in the region supplying China to follow our example and promote sustainable forest management through PEFC certification,” emphasized Mr. Wang.
China is the second Asian country after Malaysia to successfully achieve PEFC endorsement for a national certification system, and the Indonesian Forestry Certification Cooperation (IFCC) submitted its scheme for PEFC assessment in November 2013. A range of other countries in the region, including India, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea and the Thailand are advancing in national system development and exploring options for eventual international recognition by PEFC.
There are already about 2 million hectares of forests in China CFCS-certified, and more than 200 professionals have participated in the CFCC auditor training over the past years to be able to respond to the expected increase in demand for certification services following the endorsement by PEFC.