Hungary to develop national forest certification system
25 October 2012 Collaboration Fund
One of the few remaining European countries with a significant share of private forest owners yet without a national forest certification system, Hungary, launched the process to develop a PEFC-compliant system last month.
Representatives from various sectors met for a multi-stakeholder workshop in Sopron on the Austrian Border on 7 September 2012 at the invitation of the University of West Hungary, to learn about the benefits of PEFC’s unique bottom-up approach. PEFC requires countries to develop their own national forest certification standards, in line with international requirements, and to manage all aspects related to forest certification independently at national level.
Speakers from PEFC organizations in Austria, Germany, Slovakia and Slovenia introduced the distinct features of their respective systems within the context of their specific forest ecosystems, legal and administrative frameworks, and socio-economic factors. These experiences provided the backdrop for engaged discussions among representatives from governments, the forest sector, companies, research organizations and NGOs concerning how PEFC might work in practice in Hungary and how the country could benefit from the lessons learnt in other countries, specifically concerning the needs of smallholders. About 45% of the total forest area of about two million hectares is estimated to be privately owned, with the vast majority of properties being smaller than one hectare. Only 4% of owners have forest properties larger than five hectares.
Participants agreed that there is great potential for advancing forest certification in Hungary through the development of a national forest certification system in line with PEFC requirements, which are specifically designed to cater to the needs of smallholders.
Private forest owners, contractors, and forest professionals have been showing an increasing interest in PEFC certification in the past few years. A recent study by the University of Western Hungary concerning the feasibility of PEFC certification in Hungary has resulted in renewed momentum with a number of stakeholders showing increasing interest in the benefits that PEFC can provide.
Building on this momentum, ERFARET, a research and development organization founded by the University of West Hungary, has started the process of developing a national forest certification system in line with PEFC requirements with the support of the 2012 PEFC Collaboration Fund. This project is also supported by MEGOSZ, the Association of Hungarian Private Forest Owners, FAGOSZ, the Hungarian Federation of Forestry and Wood Industries, and PEFC Austria.
“This kick-off meeting is the first step in our plan to develop a PEFC system in Hungary. Indeed we are looking for building capacity among private forest owners and managers as well as in the industry while beginning the process of developing a Hungarian system meeting PEFC requirements along with promoting PEFC certification throughout the country” concluded Endre Schiberna in charge of the project at the University of Western Hungary.