Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) & Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

The FSC is a global certification system that enables specifiers to identify and purchase wood from well-managed forests. It defines ten principles of responsible forest management for a manager or owner to follow. As a benchmark, any FSC standard has to be ‘interpreted’ at the national level in order for it to be implemented within local forests.

Similarly, PEFC describes itself as an international organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) through independent third party certification. However, PEFC is not a standards agency but a mutual recognition scheme. It not only focuses on the ethical aspects of SFM but also the processing of timber, resulting in a larger emphasis on the supply chain than FSC.

While both are committed to the same cause, the primary difference between the certifications is their origins. Initially, the FSC scheme was developed for tropical environments and not suited for forests in Europe and North America. This led to the introduction of PEFC in the late 1990s, to facilitate SFM certification in Europe. PEFC now accounts for over 264 million hectares of certified forests and its certifications system is recognized in over 30 countries. Meanwhile, FSC has certified forests in over 80 countries with 7% of the world’s forest area (180 million hectares) carrying the FSC certification.

Operating 2 timber certifications

In response to the increase of environmental requirements set out within tenders, some developers and contractors have introduced timber specification policies to ensure that all parties involved in a project are working with wood that comes from a sustainable source. But could legally binding a company to one timber certification cause potential issues? While FSC and PEFC are almost the same, some clients will contractually specify that any timber supplied to a project must carry the FSC certification. This could result in lost business for sub-contractors offering PEFC certified timber products because one party involved in the project has a contract forbidding them to use it.

In some cases, a lack of understanding of the differences between FSC and PEFC certification can lead the user to seek products that meet the more common FSC certification.

Please go the following links for more information.