Despite recent revisions and improvements of a number of core PEFC standards, Greenpeace and eight other NGOs find that the PEFC system does not provide sufficient assurance of responsible forest management.
A new report jointly released by nine leading NGOs – including Climate for Ideas, the Netherlands Center for Indigenous People and Greenpeace – questions the validity of the PEFC scheme as a sustainable forestry assurance scheme.
Based on studies covering thirteen countries, it concludes that the PEFC scheme does not consistently deliver key social and environmental benefits normally associated with sustainable forest management. The findings are summarised in the report On the ground 2011: The controversies of PEFC and SFI.
The report presents findings from fourteen on the-ground studies and eight procedural case studies.
Thirteen countries are covered: Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Chile, Spain, France, Germany and Indonesia.
Field performance in focus
The NGOs find that on-the-ground practices certified to PEFC standards in these countries do not consistently deliver key benefits normally associated with sustainable forestry, including: the protection of critical forest ecosystems, wildlife and habitats; consideration of forest-dependent local and indigenous communities; and protection against conversion and degradation of natural forest.
The report further concludes that “the principal drivers for PEFC’s current weaknesses include weak standards, weak governance, poor or non-existent stakeholder consultation, a lack of transparency, an inadequate dispute resolution system and audit practices that cannot meet the expectations of a system for ensuring practices on the ground meet even the current weak standards”.
The NGOs stress that the report does not constitute an analysis of PEFC standards. The study has been carried out to determine whether PEFC meets buyers’ and stakeholders’ expectations on the ground – the ultimate measure of credibility for any forest certification scheme.
PEFC and SFI response
PEFC has rejected the main allegations made in On the Ground 2011 and responded to the criticism in a document entitled “The controversy of Greenpeace et al”. Additionally, the single largest PEFC-endorsed scheme SFI has published its own response, also rejecting the criticism raised by the NGOs.
The report was jointly released by nine NGOs: Climate for Ideas (United Kingdom), Forests of the World (Denmark), Dogwood Alliance (United States), Hnutí DUHA (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic), Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France), Greenpeace, Sierra Club of British Columbia, Suomen Luonnonsuojeluliitto (Finnish Association for Nature Conservation), Netherlands Centre for Indigenous People.