The Push for Certification

Photo Credit: NRCan

Heather Lynch

A recent report from the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) shows that Canada is home to nearly half the globe's certified forests.

Forest certification is an independent assessment process that signals to consumers that a company follows a defined set of sustainable management practices. It has picked up significant pace since 2002, with 52% the wood supply of Association members', who span across 24 countries, now officially certified.

Senior executives of major forestry certification bodies aren't falling complacent, however, even with the dramatic upswing in certification. In May 2015, industry representatives convened at PwC's 28th Annual Global Forest and Paper Industry Conference to discuss new approaches designed to meet stakeholder expectations. "Customers want assurance that the products they're busying come from responsibly managed forests," Bruce Eaket, Director of Forest, Paper and Packaging Practice at PwC said. "It's not simply [about ensuring] a continued fibre supply."

There are a number of bodies responsible for managing Canada's forest management standards. The Canadians Standards Association, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, who are all at different stages of updating their standards, are taking the opportunity to revise in a way that addresses diverse stakeholder requirements. "The standards bodies have a tough job of bringing all of that into the standard, in a way that can be effectively implemented in the forest and tracked through the supply chain," Eaket said.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative president and CEO Kathy Abusow says the updated SFI standards now factor in market trends, such as looking at ways to support customer commitments to zero deforestation, or the contribution of knowledge from a growing constituency of First Nations. "Our standard is always evolving to meet those expectations," she said. "While the standards become more rigorous for the forest products sector to meet, they also drive more value out of certification."

* Photo Credit: NRCan