It was against this background that aspirations for global forest certification were first expressed by many within environmental groups, human rights organisations and the timber industry.
The purpose of forest certification is to provide the consumer with an assurance that products have been sourced from sustainable (well managed) woodlands and forests. This assurance is based on an assessment of forest and woodland areas by independent auditors to determine whether they are being managed to recognised standards of management.
Forest certification caters for commodities such as timber which is sold on the global market and there is a mechanism to ensure that products from certified forests are separated from uncertified products in the supply chain.
This is achieved by a chain-of-custody certification which verifies that each stage of the supply chain has been certified. The consumer can easily recognise a certified product through appropriate labelling.
UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS)
Certification requires forestry practices to be audited against an agreed standard. The UKWAS is designed to provide a common standard for use within forest certification programmes operating in the UK.
The participation of stakeholders in developing the Standard which encompassed economic, environmental and social interests contributed largely to its widespread acceptance. It sets out the requirements which must be met by forest and woodland owners and managers in order to obtain certification and guidance is provided on how to fulfil these requirements.
It has been fully endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC). Therefore the FSC® and PEFC labels can be displayed on products from certified forests in the UK where forest management is in compliance with the UKWAS.
Who carries out certification?
FSC® and PEFC certification may be conducted by certifying bodies in possession of FSC® or PEFC accreditation. Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) Qualifor is the organisation which currently provides independent verification that environmental, social and economic standards have been met in Northern Ireland’s forests.
Certification of Forest Service
A reassessment audit of forest management was completed in April 2015 and Forest Service retained its certified status, a public summary of the audit is available to download from the FSC®website. Forest Service is certified to both FSC and PEFC requirements – see FSC®Licence code: FSC-C084232 and PEFC Licence code: PEFC/16-40-1924.
SGS, an FSC and PEFC accredited certification body, will complete surveillance visits throughout the next four years to ensure that compliant standards are maintained.
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification [PEFC] certification scheme for sustainable forest management requires Forest Service to have an internal audit process. Section 7.2.5 of the PEFC certification scheme 2018 references this requirement.
An internal audit process in compliance with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) requirements was developed and implemented in the 2018/19 business year and the report is available below: