Conserve Our Forests

Forest and Wood Certification

Forest and wood certifications offer consumer and tier two suppliers the ability to make informed purchasing decisions and only buy finished and raw wood products from forests, tier one suppliers and occasionally, retailers supporting sustainable management practices. Governments can also use these certifications as a tool to identify rogue manufacturers and suppliers and impose import restrictions.

Sustainable forest management is a long-term initiative, and as such, requires decades to demonstrate tangible results. However, there are some organisations which evaluate these initiatives, and issue certifications to enable wood products originating from such forests to be marketed with ease.

These certifications are quite rigorous and take into consideration various factors, such as:

• Country and region of origin of timber and end user wood products: Forestry laws differ significantly between countries, and could affect the type of timber harvested and used.

• Replanting program: Takes into consideration the volume of trees replanted, their maturity age and rate of harvesting.

• Chain of custody: Evaluating and verifying the chain of custody of timber and wood products is important. Otherwise, as observed in the diamond industry, illicit timber could be inserted into the supply chain process.

• Impact on local cultures and economy: Population around logging areas usually comprise of poorly educated and poverty-stricken communities. They must be considered as stakeholders of any logging project, and must be provided with replacement jobs or housing, instead of being left to fend on their own after the area around their communities are harvested by logging companies.

• Protection of wildlife habitat and local diversity: Many species of animals and plants have met their doom due to illegal logging. Even today, the orangutan population in Indonesia is facing a great threat owing to illegal logging. This is typically the strongest factor of any certification process.

There are currently dozens of bodies which offers certification process. The most well-known is the Geneva-based PEFC International, which reportedly is involved in two-thirds of all certifications issued thus far. However, the not-for-profit Forest Stewardship Council is gaining ground quickly on PEFC and has received the endorsement of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

So the next time you make a purchase of wooden furniture, be sure to keep an eye out for labels of certifications.