Factsheet: PEFC forest certification system in Finland

PEFC forest certification system in Finland

Key Information
Description: 
The PEFC system includes requirements for forest management and use, verification of origin of wood raw material, as well as for the independence and competence of the auditors. The regulations regarding management and use are revised at five-year intervals. The Finnish PEFC standards were last revised in 2013. The Finnish PEFC system is maintained and developed by PEFC Finland – Finnish Forest Certification Council. Group certification is well adapted to Finnish conditions, where almost two-thirds of production forest area is owned by private individuals or families. Individual forests are small, averaging only 30 hectares, and family owners numerous, perhaps one fifth of the total population, depending on the method of calculation. In regional group certification in Finland not only forest owners but also companies providing forestry services for certified forests apply to the certificate holder. This ensures that the criteria for forest certification are also fulfilled in cases where the forest owner himself does not plan and carry out forestry activities, but instead buys such services from a third party. The Finnish PEFC certification requirements have been documented in 29 criteria that define forest certification requirements for ecologically, socially, culturally and economically sustainable forest management and forest use. Like with other types of certification, legal compliance is the basic requirement also in forest certification. Thus, compliance with the certification requirements automatically means that legal compliance is achieved, i.e. certification verifies the legality of operations. Part of the certification criteria is set to the same level with the current legislation. In this case legality of operations is considered as sufficient performance level also in certified forestry. In many respects, however, certification criteria set stricter requirements than the law and require closer monitoring and information sharing about the level of performance. Criterion 5 guiding energy wood harvesting specifies general requirements and, in particular, requirements concerning harvesting and storage of energy wood. The criterion requires, in particular, the application of energy wood harvesting instructions, and prohibits ditching of peatlands in their natural state for energy wood cultivations. In the framework of harvesting, the new criterion determines the sustainability of energy wood production and gives guidance to actors in the energy wood harvesting sector. Criterion 5 exceeds the statutory level requirements as it requires the application of existing instructions in selecting harvest sites, in leaving biomass on harvested sites and in water protection measures. The application of instructions is monitored at regional level concurrently with nature management quality monitoring measures. The PEFC Chain of Custody system demonstrates how certified wood has progressed from the forest to the end product. Under the audit of an independent external body, each link in the chain shows that the processing of the wood-based product has been closely followed. 95% of Finnish forests are certified and total 20.7 million hectares.
Goal/Aim: 
Ensure sustainable forestry

Sector/Topic targeted:

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