Forest certification in India

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    • Deforestation has become a critically sensitive issue globally in recent years, and there is a greater need for the certification of forests.

    What is Forest Certification? 

    • Forest Certification offers a multi-layer audit system that seeks to authenticate the origin, legality, and sustainability of forest-based products such as timber, furniture, handicraft, paper and pulp, rubber, and many more.
    • The certification is done to avoid consumption of any product that might be the result of deforestation or illegal logging. 

    Forest Certification Industry

    • It is a three-decade-old global certification industry that began through independent third-party audits to review that management in a sustainable manner.
    • There are two major international standards: one has been developed by Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC; the other by Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certifications, or PEFC. FSC certification is more popular and in demand, and also more expensive.
    • They are not involved in the evaluation and auditing of the processes it is done by certification bodies authorised by FSC or PEFC.
    • PEFC does not insist on the use of its own standards; instead, it endorses the ‘national’ standards of any country if they are aligned with its own.
    • Two main types of certification are: forest management (FM) and Chain of Custody (CoC). CoC certification is meant to guarantee the traceability of a forest product like timber throughout the supply chain from origin to market.

    Forest certification in India

    • The forest certification industry has been operating in India for the last 15 years.
    • Currently, forests in only one state — Uttar Pradesh — are certified. 
    • The standards have been developed by the New Delhi-based nonprofit Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF).
    • India allows the export of only processed wood, not timber. The demand for wood in India is 150-170 million cubic metres annually, including 90-100 million cubic metres of raw wood. The rest goes mainly towards meeting the demand for paper and pulp.
    • India’s forests contribute just about five million cubic metres of wood every year. Almost 85 percent of the demand for wood and wood products is met by trees outside forests (ToF). 
    • Since ToF are so important, new certification standards are being developed for their sustainable management. PEFC already has certification for TOF and last year, FSC came up with India-specific standards that included certification for ToF.

    Significance of the Certification

    • Forest-based industries in India, particularly those for paper, boards, plywood, medium density fibreboard, furniture and handicrafts etc, have been pushing for forest certification to enhance their market accessibility to western markets including European Union and USA.
    • Certification scheme is aimed to improve India’s forest management regime that is often criticised for various issues ailing the sector such as forest rights, forest degradation, biodiversity losses, encroachments, lack of manpower, etc.

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