The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), recently held its Annual Stakeholder Day in London. The theme of this year’s event was - Delivering Impacts in the Forest, with speakers from the UK, North America, Asia and Europe highlighting the growth of forest certification around the world.
Staged at the North London venue of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO), on 4 July, the event was chaired by PEFC International Chairman, Peter Latham, who welcomed participants from a range of sectors including; timber, forestry, paper and board sectors and end users such as contractors, brand owners and retailers.
In his introduction, Peter underlined the importance of certification, and the need for companies to develop procurement policies which recognised both global timber certification schemes - PEFC and FSC. Such policies help increase demand for products from certified forests. He asserted that it was good to have two global schemes, since competition was healthy and led to improvements in both standards. Currently, the global certified forest area stands at 429 million hectares; 70% of which is certified to PEFC-endorsed schemes.
Dr Melvin Gumal from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Malaysia kicked off proceedings. His organisation is helping to conserve endangered species, such as elephants and tigers, by working to deter poaching in Malaysia’s southern peninsula. Dr Gumal stressed the Importance of protecting their forest habitat, adding that forest certification is helps protect the landscape vital for the survival of both tigers and their prey. WCS is currently seeking additional funding to expand its coverage across Malaysia. One key corporate supporter leading the way on funding this vital work is the UK beauty chain – the Body Shop. Their Bio-Bridges programme aims to protect and regenerate threatened habitat across the world from exploitation, unsustainable harvesting and potential poaching. Their World Bio-Bridges Mission fund aims to protect existing wildlife corridors on which species such as Sumatran tigers rely.
Canadian, Dr Mark Johnston of the Saskatchewan Research Council, explained the key role that forests play in capturing carbon across North American woodlands, and revealed the assessment his company is currently undertaking to assess carbon stocks and storage in wetland developments and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified landscapes in Canada. The SFI sustainable forest management scheme is endorsed by PEFC International.
A presentation from Ana Rengifo Abbad from Spain, showcased the work that is being undertaken by the forest certification group that her family-owned Dehesas del Guijo farm business is a part of; with some 22,000 hectares of forestland currently certified. Ana’s farm, which has been in the family since 1850, has been PEFC-certified for sustainable oak cork production since 2014. Ana considers that certification has led to continuous improvement of her farmland. It has also added value to products such as cork harvested from cork oak trees on the Dehesa and Iberico ham from the pigs which feed on the acorns, which are now sold as PEFC-certified.
Concluding proceedings for the day was Confor’s Andrew Heald, who explained UK forestry’s sustainability initiatives. He highlighted the need for continued planting and protection of forestlands for future generations. As the UK is the third largest importer of timber in the world, it is important to recognise the challenges the country will face post-Brexit. With the forest products industry currently worth in the region of £2bn, employing some 45,000 people, Andrew said there was an urgent need for additional planting and replanting of forest stocks, as demand for forest products is forecast to triple by 2050. Andrew highlighted an afforestation project currently underway at Jerrah in Stirling, Scotland. This has seen one of the largest woodland creation schemes being developed in recent years, with 1.3m trees being planted, and some 1,000 hectares being developed.
The event concluded with a drinks reception, at which the participants were able to sample some PEFC certified Iberico ham, along with some fine Spanish wines. The event was sponsored by James Latham, The Soil Association, PEFC International and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). For more information about this event, visit: http://www.pefc.co.uk/events/pefc-uk-annual-stakeholder-meeting