Protecting forests globally and locally
Forests are highly diverse; as is their management, local traditions, cultural and spiritual expectations, average property sizes and support structures. This diversity means one size does not fit all when it comes to forest certification.
This is why we do not set one international standard that all forest owners must follow in order to achieve certification. Instead, we work through national forest certification systems, enabling countries to tailor their sustainable forest management requirements to their specific forest ecosystems, the legal and administrative framework, the socio-cultural context and other relevant factors.
We require that all the relevant stakeholders are involved in the development of a national system. This means they participate in determining what sustainable forest management means within their country and how it can best be implemented locally. Having stakeholders from several different backgrounds also ensures that one interest cannot dominate the process, as all parties need to agree on the final requirements.
This is key to the success of PEFC, as it empowers those managing forests – small- and private forest owners, communities and companies – to do so in compliance with the standards that they themselves helped develop
Exceeding the international requirements
While stakeholders develop their national systems locally, they must all meet our international requirements. These set out strict rules on what must be covered within national standards, but also what must be done during the development process.
So, when you buy a PEFC-certified product, it does not matter which country it came from, you can be sure it came from a forest managed to the strictest standards.
But even better, many national systems exceed our international requirements, going even further to include additional, nationally relevant requirements.
Endorsement and mutual recognition
How do we know a national system meets our international requirements? Endorsement.
Endorsement is our process to ensure that national forest certification systems meet our international requirements. It is so vital to our organization, it’s even in our name - the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
Once developed, national systems go through a rigorous assessment process that lasts around nine months. To ensure the process is independent, the assessment is done by a third-party assessor and not by PEFC. Systems that complete this process successfully become ‘PEFC-endorsed’.
In practical terms, this means that forest-based products certified to a PEFC-endorsed national system are considered PEFC-certified anywhere in the world, and are eligible to carry our PEFC label.