Do you read the label of products that you buy? And if you do, what motivates you? I bet most of us could say it is the ingredients because of maybe allergies and religious believes. However, we always fail to consider the channel or the origin of such products; whether the production process was (is) legal or standard. For instance, when we buy wood products, we care less about the certification standards but rather the quality and maybe price. It is require that all forest products should undergo Forest Certification before they are available in the market. The Wild Worldwide Fund (WWF) defines Forest Certification as a “system of inspection and tracking timber, pulp and other forest products to ensure they have been harvested according to a strict set of guidelines.” A number of organizations do Forest Certification, but the most credible one is the Forest Stewardship Council (SFC). Founded in 1994, SFC was a result of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that suggested formation of an independent worldwide forest certification scheme. This scheme needed to be free of any governmental, political, or regional influences, thus SFC came up.
SFC has established principles that are considered before giving certification to the forest owners. The principles not only consider the type of trees cut but also on the socio-economic aspects of the forests such as the welfare forest employees, benefits to the community including indigenous rights, usage tenure rights, and environmental management and conservation measures. It is only by showing credible application of the ten solid principles that SFC can certify a particular forest. Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) is also another famous forest certification body.
I think forest certification has to be the major point of focus if we want to promote sustainable forest management practices (SFM). With most business people rushing for cheap and illegally logged forest products, a strict implementation Forest Certification principle can help address such issues. It should be a law that all commercial forest products must have a “Forest Certification” seal to save on our forests for both the present and the future. Notably, lack of implementing and enforcing such policies as Forest Certification, have seen regions like Sub-Saharan Africa incur huge losses due to illegal logging; about 17 billion US dollars, while the global loss is 100 billion US dollars (Africa Progress Report, 2014). In his encyclical, “Laudato Si” (Our Common Home), Pope Francis laments that it is quite unfortunate that most countries have masterpieces of laws and policies, but they end up on shelves without implementation and enforcement. As such, it might be difficult to go by these Forest Certification rules, but with cooperation among various stakeholders ranging from global, regional, national, local and private organizations, it is cannot be any challenging. Indeed, Forest Certification is the best way to create a world where social, economic, and ecological aspects positively converge.
Pope Francis. Laudato Si (Our Common Home)