“Collaborative” Council session concludes with approval of new projects

**Mohammed Nurudeen Iddrisu, one of PEFC Board of Director members, has chosen as a Chairman International Council for International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).  

The Chairperson of the International Tropical Timber Council, Jesse Mahoney, receives a framed gavel from incoming Chairperson,

Mohammed Nurudeen Iddrisu, at the close of the 58th session of the International Tropical Timber Council. Photo: Y. Kamijo/ITTO

Yokohama, Japan, 11 November 2022: The 58th session of the International Tropical Timber Council closed today, with Chairperson Jesse Mahoney considering it “one of the most collaborative ones in my entire time”. The Council made four decisions, including one to endorse six project proposals, three of which received full funding, thus enabling implementation to commence immediately.

The other decisions comprised a one-year extension to the Biennial Work Programme 2021–2022 to bring it into line with the biennial approval cycle of the ITTO Administrative Budget; matters related to the management of the Administrative Budget, including a one-year extension of the mandate of a virtual intersessional working group on this issue; and the extension of another working group established to assess the need for renegotiation and/or further extension of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006. The four decisions will be available on the ITTO website in December 2022.

Other major outcomes of the session include new financial contributions in 2022 for the Organization’s work of about USD 4 million, the awarding of 13 Fellowships, and the successful convening of the Annual Market Discussion addressing carbon trade and tropical forests.

In a statement, Christine Wulandari, representing the Civil Society Advisory Group, encouraged the Council to involve CSAG more in its deliberations, including the Annual Market Discussion (currently hosted by the Trade Advisory Group).

“CSAG brings our expertise and knowledge that can enhance the knowledge-sharing and recommendations from such a platform to Council,” said Ms Wulandari.

She expressed the desire of CSAG to be among partners with ITTO in piloting fundraising initiatives.

“The CSAG network involves women, local communities, Indigenous Peoples groups, who face tenure, access and rights issues within their forest, and they aspire to access the international markets for their legal and sustainable wood products,” said Ms Wulandari.

“Local communities, smallholders and other forest communities can also have a huge impact on ensuring the ITTO objective of sustainable forestry management and sustainable trade in timber products.”

CSAG also recommended that ITTO commission a paper outlining how ITTO members and other stakeholders can contribute towards climate-change adaptation and mitigation.

“Our collective work on forestry supply chains and the best ways to promote the sustainable use and management of forest resources makes us well placed to assist the international community in developing nature-based solutions that harness the power of the natural world to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and also help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change,” said Ms Wulandari.

CSAG African focal point and Wangari Maathai Forest Champion Awardee, Cecile Ndjebet, from Cameroon, made a brief statement in a recorded video, in which she recognized the important role of ITTO in empowering women in forestry in Africa and in her recent award.

In closing statements to the Council, delegates praised the spirit in which the session had been conducted. A delegate of Malaysia commented that all decisions had been taken “in a friendly and cordial manner” and a delegate for the European Commission concluded that the Council is “making progress to build a robust organization”. The Executive Director, Sheam Satkuru, won plaudits for bringing “new energy” to the role, and the Government of Japan and the City of Yokohama were thanked for their generous support of the session and the Organization.

In closing the session, Mr Mahoney expressed his pleasure at the achievements of the session. Nevertheless, he cautioned that, “we must also continue to pave a way forward to support the day-to-day activities of the Organization and the important work that it delivers in support of our important tropical forests, both in their conservation and sustainable use”.   

The 59th session of the Council is tentatively scheduled for 4–8 December 2023. The Government of Thailand, through its Royal Forest Department, is considering an opportunity to host the session.

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Media News Bulletin from PEFC Asia Pacific March 2022

Timber from Russia and Belarus considered ‘conflict timber’

All timber originating from Russia and Belarus is ‘conflict timber’ and therefore cannot be used in PEFC-certified products, the Board of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) announced 4 March 2022.
‘Conflict timber’ is defined as “Timber that has been traded at some point in the chain of custody by armed groups, be they rebel factions or regular soldiers, or by a civilian administration involved in armed conflict or its representatives, either to perpetuate conflict or take advantage of conflict situations for personal gain". PEFC is extremely concerned about the Russian government's attack on Ukraine. This has "an immediate and long-term destructive impact on the environment, on forests, and on the many people that depend on forests for their livelihoods". FAQ & Answers Here.
Responsible Wood Forest Certification for PEFC Assessment
The Responsible Wood Forest Certification System for Australia and New Zealand has been submitted to PEFC for assessment. Stakeholders from around the world are invited to give feedback on the revised Responsible Wood Forest Certification System. Deadline for comments is 28 April. Responsible Wood revised the national forest certification system for Australia and New Zealand following the entry into force of the revised 2018 PEFC Sustainable Forest Management standard. See all system assessment details for Australia and New ZealandRead more here.
Can Tables and Chairs Help Combat Climate Change?
A wooden dining room table may be able to store carbon for up to 30 years or more, up until it is discarded. This is the basic premise of how a carbon sink works, essentially a natural reservoir, like forests, oceans, or the soil, that absorbs more carbon from the surrounding atmosphere than they produce. This is the theme of an article on the PEFC Furniture Blog headlined: Can Tables and Chairs Help Combat Climate Change? You can expect to read more about the importance of certified wood for furniture in the upcoming article entitled "Adopting three pillars of sustainability for the furniture industry" by Ken Hickson in the March/April issue of Panels & Furniture Asia magazine due out any day. Go to Panels & Furniture for more.
Labels Communicate Responsible Practice to Customers
The importance of PEFC and IFCC certification in the Indonesian Furniture and Crafts industry was the focus of a recent webinar by Double Helix Tracking Technoloigies, with IFCC and PEFC Southeast Asia speakers, including Wikkie Netten, who shared how PEFC certification helps producers gain access to global markets. According to the PEFC/GfK Global Consumer Survey, 80% of consumers want companies to use appropriate labels on products and 30% said they actively look for forest certification labels when purchasing wood products. Gaining PEFC chain of custody certification and applying the PEFC label to your products enables you to communicate your responsible practices visibly to your customers. Use the pass code:4$T1%q@G Hear the webinar recording here.
Malaysia Participates at Expo Dubai Forestry Conference
Malaysia Timber Certification Council (MTCC) will be participating in the hybrid “Sustainable Forestry and Timber Construction” on 15 March, organised by Expo 2020 Dubai, Swedish Pavilion. A presentation will be done by MTCC CEO Siti Syaliza Mustapha on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Malaysia. The day’s programme includes guided tours of the Swedish and Malaysian pavilions, as well as sessions covering: Forests, timber and the global climate – facts and visions; Challenges and developments in mass-timber construction; Timber technology, health, well-being, risks and opportunities; Financial benefits from timber technology; Timber driven entrepreneurship and new value chains; Challenges in global forestry; Timber as a scarce resource – saving or destroying habitat; Regional forestry challenges, handling biodiversity and yield; The Wood solution; positive examples from around the world. Read all about it.
Sustainable Material Trends for the Global Fashion Industry
‘Sustainable Materials for the Fashion Industry: Trends & Insights’. Who wins the sustainability argument – the cotton shirt or the polyester shirt? Unfortunately, there is no simple way to call the winner. Choosing sustainable materials is one big positive step businesses can take towards climate action. Hear from the experts in this webinar organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) Singapore. What are the preferred materials and why it makes a difference? Come and hear from a panel of experts on the sustainable material trends and what lies ahead. Also hear from a global brand on their story of adoption of sustainable and innovative materials. PEFC is represented in the webinar by Deepa Hingorani. Register for TaFF webinar here.
PEFC Update on Lower Mekong UN-REDD Initiative
Through various pilot projects and other activities that benefit smallholders, PEFC is supporting its members and partners in the Lower Mekong Region within the UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative. Sustainable forest management certification standards are adapted to meet the conditions of smallholders and community forestry user groups in each country. PEFC has also developed guidance for smallholder group certification, aiming at reducing and sharing certification costs. Different smallholder pilots have been developed and will continue into 2022. Read more here.
The Forest is a Place to Relax, Breathe and Medicate
This March, our photo in the spotlight is ‘The carpet of moss’, taken by Radenko Malic, a runner-up in our 2021 ‘Experience Forests, Experience PEFC’ Photo Contest. Radenko tells us how his stunning photo came about, and why the forest is not only special and inspiring, but also a vitally important place for all of us. He was asked: How do you feel about forests, both professionally and personally? "i love to take landscape photographs, and the forest gives me a special feeling for the environment. It is a place to relax, breathe and meditate, which are all the things I do while taking a picture". Read more.

ASEAN Rai Study Highlights Responsible Investment in Sustainable Rubber in Vietnam

More than 50% of rubber plantations in Viet Nam are managed by smallholder farmers and it continues to affect the livelihoods and social development in rural communities.(Photo: nongnghiep.vn)

Produced by the ASEAN Guidelines on Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (ASEAN Rai), this case study outlines the journey of Binh Long Rubber Company Ltd (BRC) in their adoption and implementation of the sustainable rubber development plan from their parent company, Viet Nam Rubber Group (VRG). 
Viet Nam is one of the world’s top producers of natural rubber and accounts for 9.4% of natural rubber production in the world. 
More than 50% of rubber plantations in Viet Nam are managed by smallholder farmers and it continues to affect the livelihoods and social development in rural communities.
The rubber industry (including natural rubber, rubberwood and rubber products) is a significant economic powerhouse in Viet Nam and contributed an estimated USD 7.86 billion (3%) to the economy in 2020. 
VRG’s investment in support of BRC to adopt and implement the sustainable rubber development plan, includes these key actions: 
  • Continuous replanting; 
  • Maintaining certified plantation areas under the Viet Nam Forest Certification Scheme - Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (VFCS-PEFC) and processing units under the PEFC Chain of Custody (CoC); and
  • Meeting market requirements on high quality products and competitive pricing. 
The case study also drew attention to the value of conducting a feasibility study, as well as impact assessments, along with multi-stakeholder engagement and consultations at the early stages of the investment, as this helps in mitigating risks. 
Other key learnings emerging from the investment include the value of social responsibility and environmental protection within the production and processing operations, as these need to align to the company’s overall sustainability targets and commitments. 
The case study also highlighted the specific objectives of the investment into BRC, which involved:  
  • Maintaining the VFCS- PEFC scheme for 8,300 hectares of its rubber plantations and PEFC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification for its two natural rubber processing factories
  • Increasing areas certified under VFCS/PEFC forest management to include all plantation areas
  • Improving livelihoods of the local community, especially ethnic minorities
  • Promoting local economic development and contributing to local state revenue
  • Restoring and maintaining natural forest areas, specifically 5-8% of its rubber plantations to natural forests by planting native tree species
  • Creating jobs for local community members.
This case study is part of a four-part series that showcases how recent agribusiness investments in food, agriculture and forestry (FAF) sectors retroactively align with the ASEAN Rai. 
Critically, these case studies showcase:
  1. Social, environmental and financial results of these investments
  2. Business case for responsibly investing in supply chain projects 
  3. How agribusinesses ensure long-term sustainability and viability of their investments 
  4. Key policy recommendations and learnings for the future.
When the ASEAN Rai Guidelines were published in October 2020,  it was seen as a reliable and independent assessment to enable banks to make investment decisions in the food, agriculture and forestry sectors in the ASEAN region. 
PEFC scored highest among all the certification and standard setting organisations operating in the FAF sectors.
It pointed out that the first five PEFC principles align with the ASEAN RAI Guidelines on food nutrition, economic development, natural resources, climate change and rule of law and governance. 
The sixth PEFC principle (maintenance or appropriate enhancement of socio-economic functions and conditions) emphasises economic development, support to marginalised populations (women, young people, indigenous people), as well as tenure rights and data collection. 
Two of the six Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) principles include specific references to regional policy and approaches. PEFC SFM principles align with 9.5 out of 10 of the ASEAN RAI Guidelines. 
All ten banks included in the ASEAN Rai study accepted the investment standards and principles offered by PEFC. They are: ABN AMRO, ANZ, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole (CA), Credit Suisse (CS), HSBC, ING, Rabobank, Standard Chartered (SC), and Société Générale (SG). 
This is also summarised in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPjR_2w_VLg

Media News Bulletin from PEFC Asia Pacific February 2022

Impact Evaluation for PEFC's UN-REDD Sustainable Forest Trade Initiative in Lower Mekong

Individuals, organisations or consortia are invited to submit proposals to conduct an impact evaluation of the effectiveness of the PEFC’s activities within the broader UN-REDD Initiative “Sustainable Forest Trade in the Lower Mekong Region (SFT LMR)” before 4 March 2022. The aim of the project, which started a year ago, is to promote trade and sustainable forest management (SFM) through improved governance in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The initiative is funded by the Government of Norway and is implemented by FAO and UNEP. PEFC has built on the framework of its For-Trade initiative that is aimed at sustainable forestry and trade for development in ASEAN. Read all about it.

Love Paper with Real Media, Two Sides & Responsible Wood

Responsible Wood, which manages the PEFC certification system in Australia and New Zealand, is partnering with The Real Media Collective (TRMC) and Two Sides, to promote the environmental credentials of paper and print products across Australia and New Zealand. Announced late last year, the Two Sides campaign is being extended in 2022 to a consumer campaign – Love Paper. The Real Media Collective is a not-for-profit industry association representing media channels that deliver results. Member companies represent paper, print, publishing, mail, letterbox and distribution across Australia and New Zealand. The paper industry depends on and promotes sustainable forest management to provide a reliable supply of wood fibre, the key raw material for its products. Read More

Controlled Source Rubberwood For High Value Flooring

Unilin Group is among the first movers taking a step to improve the sustainability of the rubber value chain by using rubberwood for its high value flooring. We hear from Jens Van Rompaey, General Manager of Unilin Flooring Wood Division, who explains why using certified timber is vital in today’s world, and why Unilin chose PEFC certification. "We are currently sourcing “controlled sources” rubberwood in Malaysia and Southern Thailand. But our aim is to source 95% certified sustainable rubberwood by 2027. We maximise the use of thinned wood, which is wood that needs to be harvested to keep forests healthy – such as small or bent trees that could hinder the growth of other trees – but is perfectly suitable for flooring. By using wood from sustainably managed forests, we’re sure our wood sourcing doesn’t contribute to deforestation." There's more.

Future Proofing Sarawak Forestry through Sustainability

“Future-Proofing Sarawak Forestry through Sustainability”. This webinar aims to bring together all relevant forestry stakeholders to review and analyse key challenges facing the sector and ways to address these. Control Union (CU), a global leader in forest certification will be hosting the webinar in collaboration with the Forest Department Sarawak, FSC Malaysia, Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC), WWF-Malaysia and Malaysia HR Forum on 15 February 2022. Ms. Siti Syaliza Mustapha, Chief Executive Officer, MTCC, is a key webinar speaker.Read more and register here.

Case Study on Responsible Investment in Rubber in Vietnam

This case study, produced by the ASEAN Guidelines on Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (ASEAN Rai), outlines the journey of Binh Long Rubber Company Ltd (BRC) in their adoption and implementation of the sustainable rubber development plan from their parent company, Viet Nam Rubber Group (VRG). Viet Nam is one of the world’s top producers of natural rubber and accounts for 9.4% of natural ruer production in the world. More than 50% of rubber plantations in Viet Nam are managed by smallholder farmers and it continues to affect the livelihoods and social development in rural communities. See the You Tube video.

Responsible Wood Welcomes MET Funding in Australia

Australia aims to cut construction-related greenhouse gas emissions by making A$300m available in debt financing to encourage the use of mass engineered timber (MET) on big construction projects. The money comes from state investor, the Clean Finance Investment Corporation (CEFC), which calculated that using engineered wood could cut buildings’ embodied carbon by up to 75% compared to the use of conventional steel and concrete. Responsible Wood welcomes this move as most engineered wood-products are certified under PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification scheme.  Licensed by Standards Australia, the organisation is accredited to develop, implement, and enforce two standards which underpin PEFC certification in Australia: AS / NZS 4708, and AS 4707. Read More.

Malaysia Forest Photography Winner a Global Finalist

The first prize for Malaysia's Natural Forest Landscapes category went to Tan Ee Long, a 43-year-old photographer from Muar, Johor. Titled “Beautiful Sunrise at Semenyih Dam”, the snapshot was taken in 2020 and features a picturesque mirror-like view of Semenyih Dam surrounded by forested hills at sunrise. Located in Hulu Langat, Selangor, the dam has been providing water supply for the state’s Klang Valley population since the 1980s.  This image was also a finalist in PEFC's international contest and features as April's image for the international calendar.
PEFC SFM Expands for Responsible Furniture Supply Chains
The Asia Pacific is quickly catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to sustainable forest management certification, but did you know that the region already has over 30 million hectares under PEFC certification? On the strength of exciting developments in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, PEFC has seen a major expansion of certified area in the Asia Pacific region, with 75% of total certified forest area now certified against PEFC standards. PEFC is proud to partner with manufacturers and producers in Asia who are committed to building furniture supply chains that use certified, responsibly sourced wood from sustainably managed forests. There's more here.



Media News Bulletin from PEFC Asia Pacific January 2022

Transformational Year for Sustainable Natural Rubber in Southeast Asia
PEFC says 2021 was a transformational year for sustainable natural rubber as real progress was seen on the ground, with two game-changing certifications. The first from Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), who saw their pilot project with PEFC culminate in the certification of 55,000 hectares of rubber plantations. This means that the 85,000 tons of natural rubber and 300,000 tons of rubberwood produced by these plantations is now certified sustainable. The second game-changing development was Weber & Schaer’s achievement of PEFC chain of custody certification for natural rubber. Strong indications are that demand exists for environmentally friendly rubber from Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam - and that supplier certification can trigger certification of buyers. Read More.
PEFC CEO/Secretary General Ben Gunneberg on the Move
After 22 years as CEO and Secretary General of PEFC Ben Gunneberg is moving on. The organisation's Deputy Secretary General and Head of Technical Unit, Michael Berger has taken over the role of acting Secretary General from beginning of January. “The PEFC global alliance is grateful for Mr Gunneberg’s outstanding service and commitment to PEFC, as well as his significant accomplishments over his distinguished tenure,” said Eduardo Rojas Briales, Chair of PEFC International. The entire PEFC alliance thanks him for his exemplary enthusiasm, commitment, and persistence in taking the vision of the PEFC founders, and creating, building, and shaping PEFC into an international organisation that enjoys respect globally. We all wish Mr Gunneberg the best in his future endeavours, which we are sure he’ll undertake with the same dedication and passion he gave to PEFC. Read More.
Managing Forest Renewal Now & For Generations to Come
In a new innovative partnership, Responsible Wood-certified Sustainable Timber Tasmania and Midway Tasmania - Australia’s largest high quality wood fibre processor and exporter - are working to bring technically advanced, smart forest-thinning operations to Tasmanian forests, which were previously subject to clear-cut silviculture in the 1970s and 1980s. Endorsed by PEFC internationally, ‘Responsible Wood’ is the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management with its forest certification demonstrating that forests meet social and environmental benchmarks. There's more.
When Shopping, Look Out For the PEFC Certification Label
Look out for the PEFC label. We're always looking for and finding products and packaging which have been appropriately labelled. At the German Market Place in Singapore, we found these "iglo" packaged frozen fish fingers from Germany, with the PEFC label clearly in place. Eco-labelling like this is so important as it enables PEFC to track the material from sustainable forests, down the supply chain, to the final product that you buy. The mechanism to track the material is called chain of custody certification. Beyond ensuring that the material comes from a certified forest, it also protects the rights of workers along the production process.Read all about PEFC certification here.
World Agroforestry Scales Up Trees Outside Forests in India
Trees Outside Forests India (TOFI), an initiative of the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) and PEFC, is going through a “sustainable scaling up” with the support of World Agroforestry, formerly known as the International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) and USAID. A major funding proposal submitted to USAID has been approved and an agreement was signed between USAID and ICRAF for the TOFI Project (in November, 2021). The three objectives of TOFI are: 1.Enabling environment strengthened for TOF expansion; 2. TOF expansion economically incentivised and risks reduced; 3. Improved access to quality and actionable TOF information. Go to NCCF’s December Newsletter for more on this.
Unlocking Furniture Prospects for 2022 Discussed at Webinar
PEFC's global campaign for wood furniture continues into 2022, as discussed in December's webinar “Unlocking PEFC chain of custody certification for the furniture industry”, led by Fabienne Sinclair. Here's the link to the recordings of the exclusive two-day webinar about PEFC chain of custody certification for companies who manufacture, trade, and sell wood and wooden furniture.You can also learn more about PEFC's Forests are Home campaign. And in case you missed it before, here's a link to a story about an Australian furniture company Oak and Hide.
Forests Inspire Photography, Work & Lots of Good Stories
In 2021, PEFC held its ‘Experience Forests, Experience PEFC’ photo contest for the fifth time. Taking place in eleven countries, 5000 fantastic forest photos were entered from around the world. The top 12 images were selected and PEFC will showcase these during 2022. We start the series with the overall winner of the photo contest: ‘The Man and the Forest’, taken by Vitalii Popkov in Zamagora Verkhovyna, Ukraine. In this interview, Vitalii tells us more about his photo, the story behind it, and how the forest inspires him. Read all about it.
Cork, Oils, Food & Medical Products Included in the Expanded Range of Categories for PEFC Chain of Custody Certification
The PEFC product categories are a key element in the implementation of the PEFC chain of custody by certified organisations and certification bodies. The revised list of PEFC product categories, as approved by the Chain of Custody Working Group on 15 October 2021, is now available. More than 200 categories go beyond forest products for buildings, furniture, paper and packaging, to cover a host of uses for the home and workplace. Resins, oils and honey (pictured), mushrooms and truffles. To learn more about this and see the range of product categories, go here.