Supporting stakeholders to develop the Croatian forest certification system
National system development
The number of private forest owners in Croatia is growing. But until now, forest certification has remained out of their reach. In response, the 2017 PEFC Collaboration Fund is supporting stakeholders to develop a national forest certification system more suited to the needs of these smallholders.
Over the last several years, the forest area under private ownership in Croatia has risen to almost a quarter – the result of the ongoing restitution process. As the process continues, this percentage is likely to increase.
At the same time, these private forest owners have begun to reorganize themselves, establishing forest owner associations. For many, it is time for the next step, to gain certification for the sustainable management practices.
However, while the development of national forest certification standards began 15 years ago, it was never completed. Forest certification is present in Croatia, through alternative forest certification systems, but it is not tailored to the specific needs of the country’s private owners.
This lack of a national forest certification system has meant that the country’s small-forest owners have had no access to certification, nor the benefits it provides.
PEFC certification in Croatia
With a clear need to have a forest certification system in place that is attainable for smallholders, stakeholders have begun the development of a national forest certification system in alignment with the PEFC international requirements.
The 2017 PEFC Collaboration Fund is supporting the Croatian Forest Research Institute, the leading national research institution in the scientific field of forestry, as they lead the system development process.
A critical aspect of the project is the development of a national sustainable forest management standard. This will include the engagement of stakeholders, a participatory process to develop the standard, and pilot testing to ensure it works on the ground.
The project will also establish a national governing body, the organization responsible for managing and promoting the national system once it is up and running.
The final stage of the project will be the PEFC endorsement process of the Croatian national forest certification system.
Building on a regional approach
This project is a result of our regional approach to increasing forest certification throughout the Balkans. Led by our International Stakeholder member Connecting Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP), experiences from countries further along the development process are used to help other countries in the region progress.
In early 2017, a kickoff meeting was held in Croatia to officially launch the national initiative to develop a forest certification system.