India’s first forest-certification scheme gets global recognition

A Geneva-based non-profit recently decided to endorse the Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest Management designed for Indian forests

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Thursday 21 March 2019
Image: Getty Images

India now has a globally recognised forest-certification scheme developed specifically for Indian forests. Recently, a Geneva-based non-profit decided to endorse the Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) developed by Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), an Indian non-profit.

On March 4, 2019, the council of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the international non-profit that provides independent third-party certification for sustainable forest management, took this decision through a postal ballot.

The NCCF was set up in 2015 by representatives of forest-based industries, non-profits, forest auditors and government forest departments with an aim to set standards for certifying India’s forests, their products and their sustainable management.

Forest certification, a global movement initiated in 1990s after Rio Earth Summit, is a market-based non-regulatory conservation tool designed to promote sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests by an independent third party.

As several developed countries have put trade restrictions on import of non-certified timber, non-timber forest products and wood-based goods into their countries, getting sustainable forest management certificates has become mandatory for exports.

In fact, forest-based industries in India, particularly those for paper, boards, plywood, medium density fibreboard, furniture and handicrafts etc, have been pushing for forest certification to enhance their market accessibility to western markets including European Union and USA.

Recently, Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, had emphasised the importance of buying products made from certified wood only for promoting sustainable forest management, under the ‘Green Good Deeds movement’.

“The NCCF’s forest certification scheme is aimed to improve India’s forest management regime that is often criticised for various issues ailing the sector such as forest rights, forest degradation, biodiversity losses, encroachments, lack of manpower, etc. It is an appropriate time to find the causes of these chronic problems through the lens of forest certification and third-party monitoring to suggest suitable and sustainable solutions to Indian forest management,” AK Saxena, deputy director, NCCF, said.

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