PEFC’s story, from Europe to the world

2004 to 2010, six years of growth as we expanded from our European roots to become a truly international organization.

PEFC’s story, from Europe to the world

8 October 2019 20th anniversary

The PEFC story continues! In July we looked back at our early years, from our creation in 1999 up to our name change in 2003. Until this point, we had members from outside Europe, but none had achieved PEFC endorsement of their national forest certification systems. This meant only European forest owners were benefitting from PEFC certification. This all changed in 2004.

Just five years after PEFC was born as a certification system for European forest owners, we welcomed the first PEFC-certified forest area outside Europe, as Australia and Chile achieved PEFC endorsement. This marked our first big leap from a European to a global organization.

PEFC in 2003

Since then, we have grown to become the world’s largest forest certification system, with PEFC-certified forest area in 37 countries, covering five continents. 

2004 to 2010: six years of growth 

By the end of 2004, there was more than 2 million hectares of PEFC-certified forest area in South America and Oceania. This was followed shortly by hectares in North America, as the Canadian CSA forest certification system and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) both achieved PEFC endorsement. This brought with it a big leap in PEFC-certified area, from 55 million to 187 million in one year.

2004 also saw an important step in Africa, as PAFC Gabon joined the PEFC alliance, becoming the first country to develop a national forest certification system in the continent. Since then, PAFC Gabon has been joined by PAFC Cameroon and PAFC Congo. Together, these members have united in developing a regional system – the first of its kind. The collaboration allows the three organizations to pool their resources and share knowledge, while running their systems independently at national level.

As the years passed and PEFC-certified forest area continued to grow in Europe, Oceania and the Americas, it became clear that we needed to look to Asia. In 2007, we launched the Asia Promotions Initiative, with two main objectives: enable PEFC sustainable forest management certification in the region and increase the recognition of PEFC and the growth of Chain of Custody certification.

In 2009, the Malaysian national forest certification system achieved endorsement, with over 4 million hectares of forest gaining PEFC certification within a year. Since then, our presence in the region has continued to expand. There are now nine national PEFC members in Asia, including China, India and Indonesia, with several other countries actively developing national systems in line with PEFC requirements. 

PEFC in 2010

By the end of 2010, there was over 220 million hectares of PEFC-certified forest area worldwide, covering 27 countries and five continents. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of PEFC Chain of Custody certificates had than quadrupled, from around 1,900 in 16 countries to over 7,600 in 53 countries.

Stay tuned to learn about more milestones in PEFC’s history!


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Thorsten Arndt

Head of Advocacy

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