Promoting forest certification to the forest managers of the future
With forestry students the future of forest management, it is vital that they are introduced to sustainable forest management certification during their education. With this in mind, we supported a project in the Slovak Republic to provide forest certification training to the students and teachers of forestry and wood schools.
The certification of sustainable forest management has benefited from many years of strong support in the Slovak Republic, and as a result 1.2 million hectares of forest, or 63% of the total forest cover in the country, are now PEFC-certified as sustainably managed.
Discrepancies remain, however, within the ownership structure of certified forests: while forests under private, municipal and shared ownership account for around 45% of forests in the country, they account for just 14% of the certified forests. The vast majority of certified forests, over 1 million hectares, are under state ownership.
Up to now, there has been a lack of interest in certification among non-state forest owners and only a relatively small number of domestic companies with PEFC Chain of Custody certification. While the reasons for this are many, ranging from a lack of financial resources to low demand for certified products within the country, a significant element has been the lack of awareness of forest certification among forest and company managers.
PEFC in Slovakian Forestry and Wood Colleges
In response to the growing need to increase the awareness of forest and Chain of Custody certification among non-state forest owners and managers, as well as companies within the forest products supply chain, the PEFC 2013 Collaboration Fund supported a training and awareness raising project led by PEFC Slovakia.
A key aspect of this project was to build a future interest and demand for certification by targeting the country’s forestry and wood students - as it will be these individuals who will work in and manage Slovakia’s forests in the future.
Working with two of the country’s leading forestry and wood colleges, Zvolen and Banská Štiavnica, PEFC Slovakia held training sessions and developed training materials for students, covering both PEFC Sustainable Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. To ensure the teachers are able to continue teaching forest certification to their future students, an introductory seminar was also convened as part of the project.
In order to continue the impact of this project, PEFC Slovakia will continue to carry out annual seminars on sustainable forest management and Chain of Custody certification in the two colleges.
In addition, PEFC Slovakia worked with the non-state forest owners that are not yet certified, providing them with training courses and training materials, including specific guidance and a Q&A, to introduce them to the concept of forest certification.