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PEFC at Paperworld

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Press release from the issuing company

It is a relaxed and somewhat pleased Ben Gunneberg I find greeting me at the Paperworld 2010 exhibition in a wintry and snowbound Frankfurt.

PEFC's Director General has just arrived hot foot from his base in Geneva, and clearly has a message to relay to Paperworld visitors.

"Currently PEFC remains the certification system of choice for forest owners globally. An additional 16 million hectares of forest area were certified to PEFC since November 2008, which represents a growth of 7%."

This is just one of the highlights which marked another successful 2009 for PEFC, which with more than 225million hectares of certified forest area, remains the world's largest forest certification system.

Another high point of 2009 was that demand for Chain of Custody certification continued to gain momentum, with responsible companies seeking to procure wood-based  products from sustainably-managed forests. Last year PEFC Chain of Custody certificates recorded an increase of 36%. With more than 1,500 certificates being awarded, there are now more than 5,700.

In addition to these achievements, five countries were either endorsed or re-endorsed in 2009. These included Australia, China, Gabon, Malaysia and Russia. And Gunneberg is confident more will follow soon. This year ten scheme revisions will be processed, with at least one additional national scheme likely to obtain PEFC endorsement by meeting PEFC's stringent criteria.

What's more Gunneberg remains confident that PEFC is well positioned to promote and strengthen sustainable forest management and chain of custody certification globally, while contributing to the responsible management of the world's forests.

"We have the necessary structures in place to resource, run, grow and promote our services," he commented, "and together with all stakeholders united by the common objective of a world in which people manage forests sustainably, we are anticipating building on our achievements to further improve the value that we add to global society in 2010."

New standards and guidelines have also been introduced, with a revision of the International Chain of Custody standard which started in spring 2008, due for final approval later this year.

There is also the development of a joint PEFC – International Accreditation Forum (IAF) document for certification bodies which conduct Chain of Custody audits, which has now moved into its final stage for formal approval by the IAF.

At the same time changes have also taken place at Board level within PEFC, with new PEFC chairman William Street becoming the first union official to be elected as chairman of a global forest certification organisation. William was formerly the Global Forest Director for Global Union Federation, the BWI (Building and Woodworkers International), an umbrella organization which groups together 318 trade unions representing some 12 million members in 130 countries. Currently he is on the board of BWI, whose headquarters are in Geneva. Now resident in Oregon, he holds degrees in political science from Mansfield State University and the University of Oregon.

The UK has also played its part in PEFC's success in 2009. In February 2009 the 1,000th Chain of Custody certificate was issued to fine arts and social stationery publisher Woodmansterne, whilst magazines such as The Economist and large run catalogues such as Argos are all proudly displaying the PEFC logo to provide assurances of responsible paper sourcing.

In November, PEFC celebrated its 10th Anniversary at its General Assembly in Paris.  To mark the occasion, PEFC France launched the world's first sustainable advertising hoarding, which was displayed high above the streets of Paris.

As we head back to the PEFC stand I pondered the vision that it's newly-appointed chairman has for the organisation as it moves into the future:

"I would expect to see us expand our efforts to protect forests and the sustainable livelihoods they provide to local communities and families in the Global South, building on our successes doing so in the Global North.I am looking forward to working with global forest leaders to promote forest certification to support our common efforts to safeguard these important ecosystems, the biodiversity they sustain, and the livelihoods that depend on them."

In a world where the vital role that forests can play in mitigating climate change, that's surely a goal worth pursuing.




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