PEFC International recognises Responsible Wood as Australia records the greatest increase in PEFC-certified forest area
Every year, PEFC International awards PEFC members that have achieved the biggest increases in PEFC-certified forest area and PEFC chain of custody certificates.
In 2021, the awards for highest growth in certified hectares went to Australia thanks to an increase of 5 million hectares.
This is an increase of over 40%, taking the PEFC-certified forest area in Australia to over 16 million hectares.
The Australian governing body for PEFC, Responsible Wood’s gold milestone was recognised at the 26th PEFC General Assembly last week as representatives met remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s a great credit to the PEFC system and its effectiveness, so thank you very much for the award,” according to Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries.
Second place went to PEFC Russia, with an increase of more than 1.3 million ha, with PEFC Germany in bronze position thanks to a growth of more than 900,000 ha.
Eduardo Rojas Briales, former Assistant Director-General and head of the forestry department at FAO and chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, was elected the new chairman of PEFC International.
“The past years have put forests at the centre of key global debates, especially in combating climate change,” Mr Rojas Briales said.
“This unprecedented fact provides huge opportunities to share broadly the expertise accrued in the PEFC family with key stakeholders in these deliberations.”
He said although PEFC’s main instrument was certification, its mission and grounding values were much broader and went much further.
“Locally-anchored forest management by families, communities, or indigenous peoples, as well as by other private and public players, is the backbone of PEFC,” Mr Rojas Briales said.
“There is no other organisation world-wide that represents the forest community in an integrated manner like the PEFC.”
Eduardo takes over the chairmanship from UK-based Peter Latham, who has held the position since 2016.
Mr Rojas Briales thanked Peter Latham, “for his leadership, wisdom and integrative skills in the growing PEFC family, ensuring that everybody felt a part of it while preserving the key PEFC grounding values.”
PEFC International CEO Ben Gunneberg recognised Responsible Wood chair Dr Hans Drielsma AM and CEO Simon Dorries at the assembly.
Reflecting on the award, Mr Dorries noted the important role Australia had played in growing the scheme.
The Australian Forestry Standard (now Responsible Wood) and ‘CERTFOR’ in Chile, were the first forest certification schemes outside of Europe mutually recognised and internationally endorsed by PEFC International.
“This marked an incredibly important milestone and, from 2004 onwards, the PEFC family has grown globally with many countries joining the PEFC alliance,” Simon Dorries said.
Today, PEFC has more than 325 million ha of global forest area under certification with more than 16 million ha of defined forest area in Australia alone. In Australia, more than 90% of all commercial forest area is covered by Responsible Wood certification, a combination of native forest and plantation forests.
“Responsible Wood is recognised as an important trust mark for sustainable forest management,” Mr Dorries said.
Responsible Wood manages the Australian standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708) and the Australian standard for Chain of Custody for Forest Products (AS 4707) and is licensed by Standards Australia as a Standards Development Organisation.