Supporting the development of forest certification in Southeast Asia
From supporting the development of national systems, to ensuring certification is accessible to the many small- and community forest owners, our work in this region has expanded significantly in recent years.
Southeast Asia is home to the world’s third largest area of tropical rainforest, containing some of the richest and most valuable resources and habitats on earth. As well as an important source for timber production and rural employment for the region, these forests also have an important effect on watershed protection, biodiversity and the global carbon balance.
In addition to the natural forests, planted forests are also common throughout Southeast Asia. In many countries, it is plantation forests, both large and small-scale, and trees outside forests that contribute the most to productive forestry.
Despite the importance of the region’s forests, the uptake of forest certification in Southeast Asia has remained low - only 3.5% of forests are currently covered by certification. In order to scale up the level of forest certification in the region, there is a need for new approaches, innovation and investment to support sustainable forest management and make certification accessible and effective for forest owners.
PEFC in Southeast Asia
We use a multi-faceted approach to support the diverse range of stakeholders interested in advancing forest certification in the region. In addition to supporting the development of national forest certification systems in several countries, we are working with a variety of partners to pilot test new approaches to group certification for smallholders, support value chain development and provide training to build the required capacity for forest certification to succeed.
National System Development
From the first step all the way through to submission to PEFC for endorsement, we are supporting stakeholders to develop their own national forest certification systems in a number of countries.
The 2016 PEFC Collaboration Fund supported Thai stakeholders develop a certification system that responded to the needs of the country's smallholders. Later the same year, the Federation of Thai Industries (F.T.I.) became the PEFC national member for Thailand. In 2019, the Thai national forest certification system achieved PEFC endorsement.
Since then, the TFCC has been working progressively to strengthen the system. In 2020, the first PEFC label in the Thai language was launched by the 7-11, the biggest convenience store in Thailand. TFCC also launched a group certification project to support smallholders producing rubber in Thailand.
With a committed government and engaged local stakeholders, Vietnam continues to develop its national forest certification system. In late 2018, the Prime Minister approved the project on sustainable forest management and forest certification by establishing the national forest certification system, in line with PEFC international requirements.
In 2019, the Vietnam Forest Certification Office (VFCO) was launched to coordinate forest certification activities and manage the national forest certification system (VFCS). In May, Vietnam joined the PEFC alliance as a national member and in August the VFCS endorsement assessment began and is well on track. The field assessment was carried out successfully by the third-party registered assessor in January 2020.
As Myanmar continues to reform its forest sector, we are partnering with the Myanmar Forest Certification Committee (MFCC) to support this transition to the sustainable management of its forests. MFCC and project partners have since made steady progress to develop and offer practical solutions for the forest sector which verify the legality and traceability of harvested wood. In parallel, MFCC is continuing to strengthen the national certification system to meet PEFC’s requirements. MFCC became a PEFC national member in May 2019.
Regional level cooperation
The PEFC Southeast Asia team and PEFC members in the Asia region actively engage in regional platforms to promote PEFC and how it addresses sustainable forest management, supply chain verification and legality.
We used the occasion of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019 to gather our PEFC members in the Asia-Pacific region, with all delegates contributing to a number of events. The seminar 'Reimagining sustainable forest certification: realizing impacts in Asia Pacific' discussed PEFC's impacts over the last 20 years. The session ‘Development of synergies between PEFC and other initiatives such as FLEGT, utilizing experience in ASEAN” encouraged participants to share their experiences of how we can synergize FLEGT and certification.
In collaboration with KoFPI, our national member for Korea, we organised a two-day training for accreditation bodies in East Asia. The training has equipped the accreditation bodies with the technical competence needed to run a PEFC chain of custody programme. In addition, PEFC innovations in forest management accreditation were addressed.
Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
We are actively supporting PEFC national members and other quality infrastructure actors to work together under APEC frameworks.
Alongside MTCC, we are engaged in the APEC Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT). Mr. Yong Teng Koon, MTCC CEO, presented at the EGILAT 17 in February 2020, highlighting the initiatives taken by PEFC and the support provided to increase capacity amongst APEC economies, as well as the potential of certification to be a framework for advancing trade in legally harvested forest products.
Mr Febby Andryananto, Program Director, APEC Secretariat, attended the PEFC accreditation body training in Korea to learn about PEFC frameworks and quality infrastructure related to PEFC endorsed national forest certification systems. While the representative of the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC), Ms Eva Nakamura, participated in PEFC Group Certification Field Dialogue in Germany last November.
With PEFC’s vast experience in providing cost-effective certification solutions for small forest owners, we are compelled to transfer this expertise to Southeast Asia where robust models for affordable group certification are drastically needed.
Through our Smallholder Group Certification programme we are invested in a range of activities to:
- Share experiences on group certification across the globe.
- Build capacity of smallholders and their organizations.
- Invest in local projects that are building new and appropriate models for group certification, especially in the developing world.
Over the years we have supported group certification innovation projects in Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Many of these projects are long-term co-operations between local organizations and PEFC.
We continue to innovate and develop solutions to promote rural livelihoods, improve access to markets and increase the uptake of forest certification.
Supply Chain Development
In order to provide an additional incentive to the countries embarking on the system development process, another important aspect of our work in this region is to support the development of sustainable supply chains. In particular, we are working with a range of partners to increase the trade of sustainably-produced forest products within domestic, regional and international markets.
We are also working with partners in Cambodia to leverage chain of custody certification of sustainable charcoal in order to enhance forest protection and community livelihoods.