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Technical Updates


Tuesday, 15. May 2012
New study finds PEFC system insufficient to meet FSC Controlled Wood requirements


A recent NEPCon study which evaluated the extent to which the PEFC system could guarantee that controversial wood was excluded from PEFC certified products, a requirement of the FSC Controlled Wood (CW) standard (FSC-STD-40-005), found that PEFC’s rules and verification systems for unacceptable sources are not sufficiently rigorous to meet the FSC system requirements.


In particular, only 3 out of 18 national PEFC forest management standards fulfil the requirements of FSC’s CW standard, with most of them having weaker provisions concerning traditional and/or civil rights and forest conversion.  Further, PEFC’s chain of custody and overall system assurance make it impossible for FSC to recognize even wood certified under those 3 standards that do offer sufficient assurance with regards to FSC CW.

Both FSC and PEFC allow non-certified wood or fibre to be mixed into certified products which carry a ‘mixed sources’ claim. However, in order to maintain system credibility it is crucial that wood from unacceptable sources be excluded from mixed products. FSC operates the Controlled Wood system to minimise this risk.  

FSC commissioned NEPCon to carry out this study, which individually analysed and assessed the PEFC Forest Management standards, Chain of Custody requirements assurance system against the FSC Controlled Wood requirements and FSC assurance system. Nepcon was hired to conduct this study given its expertise in both PEFC certification and FSC Controlled Wood. FSC only defined the terms of reference for the study and did not have any input in the analysis or the final report.

While the new PEFC global forest management standards, which will come into effect in May 2013, may in theory address forest conversion, it remains to be seen if accreditation of the national PEFC standard will be rigorous enough to meet FSC CW requirements on this crucial issue. Also, significant gaps may still remain regarding the respect for traditional and civil rights, as PEFC only requires compliance with national legislation.
 
FSC is fully committed to supporting its certificate holders in the implementation of the FSC Controlled Wood standard and as such is investing heavily in the development of national and sub-national risk assessments, as well as in ensuring that the CW requirements are in line with the provisions of forest legislation such as the European Timber Regulation and the Lacey Act in the United States.

FSC has provided a copy of the report to PEFC so the analysis may be considered towards the development of PEFC’s systems and standards. The intent is to support the advancement of forest certification overall and encourage improvements that would allow efficient consideration of PEFC certification within FSC’s CW rules. FSC recognizes the value of research and information sharing as part of its mission to improve forest management worldwide.

A copy of the study can be downloaded here.