Giving a voice to the people: how forest certification improves lives

Giving a voice to the people: how forest certification improves lives


If the people who depend on forests for their livelihoods aren’t included in conversations about sustainable forest management, how can it be truly sustainable?

After all, people and forests are closely linked. Forests contribute to the livelihoods of some 1.6 billion people worldwide, the majority of which are in rural regions of developing countries. 

This means sustainable forest management and certification have the potential to positively impact a huge number of lives around the world.

This subject is at the heart of both PEFC and Building and Wood Worker’s International (BWI). In July, our CEO Ben Gunneberg and Coen van der Veer from BWI came together to talk about this vital issue. Check out their conversation in the video below:

People are at the heart of the matter

At PEFC, we have a long history of ensuring that people are central to certification. We ensure that small- and family forest owners are able to achieve certification through our group certification mechanism. To date, around one million small-forest owners have achieved PEFC certification through group certification, and the number continues to grow. 

But our work to give people a voice goes beyond ensuring that even the smallest forest owners can benefit from certification. People also hold an important place within our standards.

We have been working with BWI for ten years. As a global trade union that aims to enforce workers’ rights, BWI play an important role in helping to ensure that requirements regarding workers’ rights are included within our standards. 

Certification helping to improve lives

Most recently, we expanded the social requirements within our Sustainable Forest Management standard, with greater inclusion of human rights, a stepwise approach to living wages (both for migrant and local workers) and the promotion of gender equality. The BWI representatives in particular were critical to getting the requirement regarding the stepwise approach to living wages in the standard.

“With this step-wise approach, we will sit down with the industry to negotiate the essential needs of the people, and how we can give to people an income that they not only deserve, but they also need to supply their family with the necessary food, housing and income protection,” Coen highlighted.

“It's a very interesting journey, and to be honest I think that PEFC is the first one to go into that direction with us. And it's very exciting to be part of that.”


15 July 2020

11:00 - 12:00 (UTC+1)

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Thorsten Arndt

Head of Communications

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