Supporting stakeholders to develop the Macedonian forest certification system
National system development
Forests are an important natural resource in the Balkans, providing income and employment opportunities for rural populations, not only through wood products, but also through non-wood products, tourism and recreation.
However, there was a growing call for the sustainable management of these forests. The general public was becoming increasingly interested in their forests and the role they play within the natural environment, and as a result, demanding their protection and responsible management.
The implementation of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) also played a significant role in the move towards sustainable forest management and forest certification. The EUTR prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the European market. Through PEFC certification, forest owners and companies can demonstrate alignment with the new regulations, enabling their certified products to be imported into, and sold on, the EU market.
Stakeholders within the forestry sectors of these countries are now increasingly looking to develop sustainable forest management and the use of forest certification to provide assurance that their forests are managed sustainably.
PEFC certification in North Macedonia
Following on from an initial outreach project carried out in the Southwest Balkans, the 2014 PEFC Collaboration Fund supported a follow-on project to guide North Macedonia through the system development process, up to their application to PEFC for the endorsement of their national system.
A working group was formed to develop the sustainable forest management standard, along with the other documents making up a national forest certification system. Stakeholder mapping ensured that all relevant stakeholders were involved in the process. Once complete, the draft SFM standard went through a public consultation and pilot test to ensure it met expectations. The standard was then finalized, voted on and approved.
While the development process was underway, the National Governing Body responsible for governing and administrating the new national system joined PEFC as a national member.
After undergoing an independent third-party assessment to ensure it complied with our international benchmark standards, the Macedonian forest certification system was endorsed by PEFC in June 2018.
While the project has finished, the remaining funds will be used to prepare for the implementation of the system and to work with small-forest owners to ensure they are able to achieve certification of their forests.
PEFC Outreach in Southwest Balkans
The project in North Macedonia grew out of an earlier project from 2013 that saw us partnering with Connecting Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP). This project aimed at developing awareness and capacity on sustainable forest management and PEFC certification within the forestry community of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, with the goal to lay the groundwork for the development of national forest certification systems.
Working towards this objective, CNVP and PEFC reached out to a range of stakeholders through a series of meetings and workshops held within all three countries. A tool was developed to test small-scale private forest management against the PEFC Sustainable Forest Management criteria and indicators.
Key brochures, including ‘Promoting Sustainable Forest Management’, were also translated into the Macedonian and Albanian languages. The project was concluded with a workshop seminar that brought together stakeholders, along with members of the press, from around the countries.