The process of drafting a certification standard is governed by well-defined requirements agreed at international level.
Helsingin Sanomat thing (4.5.) The critical statement of some representatives of the ely centers in the area of responsibility for the environment and natural resources regarding the preparation and future content of the Finnish PEFC standard for forest certification has aroused much discussion. The case gives rise to some clarifications and the correction of possible misunderstandings.
The key message from the representatives is that the certification standard does not guarantee sustainability in the management and use of forests, and thus the information would be misleading. There is no commonly agreed definition of sustainability in forest management other than an internationally and nationally agreed list of criteria, indicators and their verification. When different forest certification schemes talk about sustainability or responsibility, they mean how their requirements are defined. The three areas of sustainability are not subordinate to each other.
The understanding of the relationship between legal requirements and law enforcement and forest certification needs to be corrected. Forest certification is an instrument implemented by the private sector in which those to be certified participate voluntarily, often at the request of buyers in the product value chain. The law sets a minimum level for the management and use of forests. Certification standards in all countries require legality in a broad sense, but they do not seek to reproduce the text of the laws. On the other hand, forest certification facilitates law enforcement, thus bringing added value to the state administration.
The process of drafting a certification standard is governed by well-defined requirements agreed at international level. Criticism has generally come from those participants who have not received all of their own demands as part of the agreed outcome, which is, of course, normal.
In the Standards Working Group, people representing the state administration are in an expert role in facilitating the acquisition of information and assessing the appropriateness of the proposals made, facilitating the finding of a compromise. In this case, the representatives of the ely centers have also intervened in the content of the requirements.
As stated in the representatives’ arguments, the PEFC certification of Finnish forests has brought many positive practical results due to its long-term and wide application. It is clear that certification does not seek to cause harm to the environment.
All certification systems aim for continuous improvement, as standards are renewed every five years. Everyone thinks that the end result is not always sufficient, but at the same time the level of adequacy is not defined and, in addition, it tends to change over time.
The European Commission was immediately informed of the content of the statement by the representatives of the ely centers by the Actives, which report on the “unsustainability” of Finnish forestry. In this regard, it inevitably comes to mind that the Brussels Card should be used very carefully as long as we want to decide for ourselves how Finnish forests are managed and used.
Doctor of Agriculture and Forestry
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