The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. It is considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners.
Its 50 worldwide independent national forest certification systems represent more than 299.99 million hectares (741.3×106 acres) of certified forests, making it the largest forest certification system in the world, covering about two-thirds of the globally certified forest area. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
PEFC was founded in 1999 as an international umbrella organization providing independent assessment, endorsement and recognition of national forest certification systems. Its founding was in response to the difficulties faced by small, family-owned and community forests in achieving certification under the Forest Stewardship Council.
In 2000, PEFC made its first endorsements of the national standards used by Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria. In 2004 it endorsed its first non-European national standards, used by Australia and Chile. As a consequence PEFC changed its name from Pan European Forest Certification to Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.
The endorsement of the Canadian standard in 2005 made PEFC the world's largest resource of certified wood, with more than 100 million hectares of certified forest area. Three years later, PEFC certified area grew to 200 million hectares, which is equivalent to two-thirds of the total area certified against credible forest certification globally.
Today, PEFC is the world's largest forest certification system and the certification system of choice for small forest owners.
PEFC International is the only international forest certification scheme that bases its criteria on internationally accepted intergovernmental conventions and guidelines, thereby linking its sustainability benchmark criteria with existing governmental processes. This includes:
PEFC requires adherence to all eight core ILO conventions, even in countries which have not ratified them. These conventions are
PEFC only recognize forests certified to standards that have been reviewed and endorsed by PEFC.
National forest certification systems that wish to be recognized by are required to set standards keeping with the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 59:1994 Code of good practice for standardization. National standard must be developed by so-called National Governing Bodies, and meet requirements for transparency, consultation and decision-making by consensus. These guidelines also outline processes for revising and amending standards, and provide those who utilise the standard with the security of future certainty.
All PEFC-endorsed standards have been subjected to public review during their development. National forest certification systems wanting to obtain PEFC endorsement are subject to an independent assessment to ensure that it meets the PEFC requirements for the standards development process, public review and forest management requirements. The consultant's report is reviewed by an independent Panel of Experts and the PEFC Board, and if satisfactory, the new standard is approved by the PEFC members as a PEFC-endorsed standard. To ensure the independence of the certification bodies, they are not accredited by PEFC itself, but by a national accreditation agency.
In line with its commitment to transparency, PEFC makes its entire documentation of national forest certification system, including the independent assessments, publicly available. Information about all issued certificates, including information about suspended, withdrawn and expired certificates, is publicly available on the PEFC website.
Countries with PEFC endorsed national certification systems include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Viet Nam.
Forest Stewardship Council is the main alternative forest certification system. Mutual recognition of FSC and PEFC certified material in the chain of custody has not yet happened. However, FSC and PEFC use the same forest management standard in countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway; Malaysia has submitted its timber certification scheme for PEFC endorsement that is largely based on FSC principles and criteria.
Several environmental non-governmental organizations, such as The Wilderness Society, Greenpeace and FERN have criticized the PEFC. Greenpeace does not believe alternatives to the FSC, including PEFC, can ensure responsible forest management.
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Avoid the following brandings: FSC Mixed Sources ...PEFC (including AFS) – Poor governance, includes wood from badly managed forests, linked to world’s worst forestry practices ... in Australia
Greenpeace International does not believe that other forest certification systems, such as PEFC have the ability to ensure responsible forest management. These systems lack robust requirements to protect social and ecological values.