Caring for our forests globally
National Sites

Developing National Systems

Portugal 01ForestisNational forest certification systems are developed by local stakeholders, in response to local demand, interest and commitment.

This nationally driven development is at the heart of PEFC’s success. It helps to ensure the long-term commitment of those who will be responsible for implementing the requirements. This is because they are not simply following the requirements, but also helped develop them.

The system development process involves many stakeholders and is facilitated by a specific organization called the standardizing body.

Procedures first

Before work begins on the national standards, the standardizing body develops standard setting procedures. These detail the process for developing the forest management standard and, if needed, the Chain of Custody standard.

These procedures must meet our strict requirements to ensure stakeholder engagement, balanced representation, consensus building, continuous improvement and transparency in the process. The standard setting procedures address the following steps in the standard setting process.

Standard setting

Developing the standard proposal

A first step in the development or revision of a standard is the standard proposal. This describes the scope and need for the standard, the intended outcomes and any negative effects. The project proposal also serves as a reference for interested stakeholders.

Establishing the working group

A standard setting working group develops the national forest management standard. Stakeholder mapping identifies stakeholders that need to be involved in the standard setting process, with particular focus on key and disadvantaged stakeholders.

Once the stakeholders have been mapped and invited to participate, the working group is created. The working group must have balanced representation, including the consideration of gender balance, with no interest group dominating the process.

Ideally, we strive for a balance as defined in Agenda 21 and include business and industry, children and youth, forest owners, indigenous people, local authorities, NGOs, scientific and technological communities, women, and workers and trade unions.

Developing the draft

The starting point for the working group can vary: building on existing work, a draft document specifically prepared for the group, or starting from a blank piece of paper.

The working group develops the content of the forest management standard working draft. This process must be consensus driven, with no single interesting dominating.

All of the requirements of PEFC ST 1003:2018, Sustainable Forest Management – Requirements must be addressed within the national forest management standard.

Testing the draft

Once consensus has been reached on the standard, the enquiry draft is circulated for a 60-day public consultation. This provides the working group with additional feedback, input and comments.

The draft standard is also tested on the ground through a pilot test, with the results feeding back into the working group.

The final draft

Using the comments and findings from the public consultation and pilot test, the working group finalizes the final draft of the standard. The decision to recommend the final draft for formal approval is taken on the basis of consensus.

In case of sustained opposition on a specific issue, the working group will need to make every effort to try to find a solution acceptable to all stakeholders.


The standardizing body will formally approve the standard based on evidence of consensus reached by the working group. Once done, the new standard is published.

The requirements for stakeholder involvement in the standard development process and for consensus by stakeholders in the approval of all standards make PEFC unique in the world of forest certification.

Periodic review

Five years after the formal approval, we require a review of the standard. This periodic review ensures that the standards are updated so they can continue to meet stakeholder demands and expectations.

The review process includes the consideration of feedback received during the standard’s implementation, a gap analysis with current PEFC requirements, legislation and other relevant standards, and finally the consultation of national stakeholders. Based on the review, the standardizing body then decides either to revise the standard or to reaffirm it without any changes.

Implementation procedures

A national forest certification system is more than just the forest management standard. The implementation procedures, which regulate the correct implementation and functioning of the certification process, make up another two vital components:

  1. Certification and accreditation procedures
  2. Group forest management certification requirements

Administration procedures

Successful administration of a system requires consistent, efficient and professional processes. To govern the critical functions of ongoing system administration, procedures are needed for issuing:

  • Certification Body notification;
  • Certificate registration;
  • Logo usage licenses; and
  • Complaints resolution.

To ensure the harmonized implementation of PEFC internationally, our guide PEFC GD 1004:2009, Administration of PEFC Scheme outlines requirements for these procedures.

PEFC Support

While it is vital that stakeholders are responsible for the development of their own national standards, we also provide many of these stakeholders with guidance, advice and insights as they progress along the development process.

PEFC Documentation
PEFC Guidance

Standard Setting (PEFC ST 1001:2017)
Describes the requirements for standardising bodies during their development, review and revision of standards for forest management and system-specific chain of custody standards relating to forest products. It is based on ISO/IEC Guide 59 and Guide 2.

Group Forest Management Certification (PEFC ST 1002:2018)
Defines the general requirements for forest certification schemes which include group forest management certification and allow the certification of a number of forest owners/managers under one certificate.

Sustainable Forest Management (PEFC ST 1003:2018)
Covers requirements for forest management standards applicable to all types of forests.

Chain of Custody (PEFC ST 2002:2013)
Specifies the requirements that organizations must comply with in order to be able to obtain chain of custody certification.

Certification and Accreditation Procedures (Annex 6)
Defines the certification and accreditation procedures for national certification schemes

ISO/IEC Guide 2 - Standardization and Related Activities - General Vocabulary
Provides general terms and definitions concerning standardization and related activities, including the definition for consensus.

ISO Guide 59 - Code of Good Practice for Standardization
The guide deals with procedures for the development of standards, advancement of international trade, participation in the standards development process, coordination and information.

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 309 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 20,000

(as of December 2018)

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To find out more about developing your own national system, contact us at

PEFC Annual Review

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PEFC Annual Review 2017

PEFC Projects

We run a number of projects aimed at helping stakeholders develop their national systems:


Congo Basin

Croatia national park small

ghana project

Macedonia 2-sm

mediterranean basin small
Mediterranean Basin

Myanmar project people smallMyanmar

Filipino forest small

List of PEFC Members

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Registered Assessors

Registered Assessors Nov 2018List of PEFC registered assessors