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PEFC Standards Revision

Sustainable Forest Management

What's the document about?

This benchmark lays out the international requirements for sustainable forest management.

It is these requirements that must be reflected in the national forest management standards submitted for PEFC endorsement. They constitute requirements for owners or managers applying for forest certification, as well as contractors and other operators operating in certified forests.

The PEFC General Assembly approved the revised standard on 14 November 2018.

sfm vote 2018

What has changed?

For many stakeholders, especially small-forest owners, the most significant change is the inclusion of Trees outside Forests (TOF).This will make PEFC certification 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.

We have expanded the social requirements, with greater inclusion of human rights, a stepwise approach to living wages (both migrant and local) and the promotion of gender equality. Working conditions shall now be regularly monitored and adapted as necessary, and employment policies must include equal opportunities and non-discrimination.

The revised document also includes a refined definition of ecologically important forest areas, supports climate positive practices and strictly limits the reforestation or afforestation of ecologically important non-forest areas.

Want to know more? Then make sure you listen to our recent webinars: the first one provides an overview of the changes to the benchmark, while the second one focuses in on the inclusion of Trees outside Forests.

SDG Wheel TransparentSustainable Development Goals

This new benchmark extends the impact of PEFC certification beyond forests and enhances its contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The inclusion of Trees outside Forests will help to increase income and productivity of agricultural land and agroforestry, especially in developing countries, reducing poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2). It is also relevant for trees in cities and urban forests, with a positive impact on sustainable cities (SDG 11) and the well-being of urban populations (SDG 3).

Expanded social requirements will contribute towards decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and gender equality (SDG 5). There are also enhanced provisions to safeguard the interests of indigenous peoples and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of traditional and local knowledge (SDG 2 & 4).

The sharpened definition of ecologically important forest areas, references to the role of forests in providing ecosystem services, and the forbidding of reforestation or afforestation of ecologically important non-forest areas, all support life on land (SDG 15). While the climate positive practices support climate action (SDG 13).

Who revised the standard?

Working Group 1 was responsible for the revision of this standard. WG 1 built consensus on the revised standard, relying on the involvement of active and committed individuals from different interest groups.

wg1 meeting may

To ensure that no single concerned interest can dominate the process, the WG has balanced representation of interested stakeholders, including geographical representation, and a consensus-driven decision making process.

Revision timeline (completed)

  • January – February 2016: Establishment of the Working Group
  • May 2016: First WG meeting
  • October 2016: Second WG meeting
  • March 2017: Third WG meeting
  • September 2017: Fourth WG meeting
  • March 2018: Fifth WG meeting
  • April 2018: Public consultation
  • July 2018: Sixth WG meeting - WG achieved consensus on the final draft
  • October 2018: Approval by the PEFC Board
  • 14 November 2018: PEFC General Assembly approved the revised standard


Discover how our sustainable forest management benchmark has changed...

Webinar recordings
Sustainable forest management
Trees outside Forests

Take a look at the revised guideline!


There are several ways to get involved in the Standards Revision process:

Working Groups
The most powerful institution in the process: members are responsible for the core of the revision work.

Public Consultations
Provide input into the enquiry drafts through our public consultations.

Revision Newsletter
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