When it comes to forest products, there are two major certification schemes: the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Products) and the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). The PEFC, created by the forestry sector in response to the creation of the FSC, has developed from a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise without any controls, to a genuine certification scheme. Despite these improvements, Fern’s 2001 report Behind the Logo and Fern’s 2005 report Footprints in the Forest found that the PEFC remained less rigorous than the FSC.

For many years Fern was an active supporter and member of the FSC. Its multi-stakeholder process was innovative and set a trend for other initiatives, including FLEGT. In part thanks to FSC, good forest management is now widely seen as being a balancing act between economic, social and environmental values, rather than just as sustainable yield. This balancing act requires an inclusive, deliberative, multi-stakeholder process to set standards and processes. Lack of effective implementation of its standards, combined with an attempt – later abandoned – to certify forest carbon offsets, was, however, sufficient reason for Fern to rescind its membership in 2011.

Fern no longer works directly on certification. Instead we focus our efforts on ensuring the EU reduces its overall forest footprint, and only imports commodities that are legally and sustainably sourced (see our consumption work). Fern calls on the EU to improve management and restoration of existing EU forests to reduce emissions from the forest and land sector (see our forests and climate work).

Key publications
Read our report Playing with Fire: Human Misery, Environmental Destruction and Summer BBQs for an insight into the impacts of the FSC certified charcoal market in Namibia and EU Ecolabel allows forest destruction - the case of Pindo Deli which investigates the weak Ecolabel criteria for sustainable forest management for an Indonesian company. Also see Behind the Logo: An environmental and social assessment of forest certification schemes which compares and discusses four certification schemes.
All resources related to Certification