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:

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:

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.

Strategic Partnership Launched to Promote Sustainable Supply Chains for the Textile and Fashion Industry in Singapore

A three year strategic roadmap to promote fashion supply chain sustainability and responsible procurement is being launched in Singapore on Tuesday 30 November 2021 between the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).  
This partnership will drive greater awareness among TaFF members, partners and stakeholders, of the importance of legal and sustainable sourcing of forest-derived fibres for materials such as textile, packaging and natural rubber. 
Fashion supply chain sustainability and responsible procurement are critical to make sure that we all benefit from the many products that forests provide now, while ensuring these forests will be around for generations to come.
It is now widely recognised by the business community that consumers expect brands to be environmentally friendly. Across the world, the fashion industry is responding.
This is also in line with the UN Fashion Charter for Climate Action, committing the industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions through global supply chains by 30% by 2030.  
PEFC has been working with designers and the fashion industry for some years to show how fibre from sustainably managed forests can be turned into fashionable garments, demonstrating sustainability every step of the way.
The strategic partnership with TaFF makes perfect sense, as it draws on PEFC’s experience in managing a global campaign “Fashions Change, Forests Stay”, which recognises that forest fibre from responsible sources are already starting to be used in fashion design, In Europe and Asia.  
"It is important that fashion brands and retailers have the assurance that the wood-based fibres that they are using are indeed sourced sustainably. A discerning brand/retailer and consumer will look for international certifications. And such assurance can help consumers narrow the gap between the price premium for sustainable clothes and their willingness to pay," said Carolyn Poon, Director, Sustainability, Textile and Fashion Federation (Singapore).
APR/RGE and PEFC will be among the organisations exhibiting at Design Orchard for the TaFF event on Tuesday 30 November.  


Media News Bulletin from PEFC Asia Pacific November 2021

PEFC & Experts Focus on Pulp, Paper & Fibre-based Packaging

The Consumer Goods Forum’s Forest Positive Coalition released the Pulp, Paper and Fibre-based Packaging (PPP) Roadmap earlier this year. The document aims to guide Coalition members in their efforts to remove deforestation and conversion from PPP supply chains. PEFC invites brand owners and retailers - and media of course - to join its webinar on Thursday 4 November. An expert panel will discuss the Roadmap ambition and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), how PEFC traceability certification requirements are aligned with the guidelines, and how those are audited on the ground. Certification will continue to play an important role in the Coalition’s push to tackle deforestation, forest conversion and degradation, as well as traceability of materials and improved management of forests. PEFC also wants to ensure that all stakeholders with an interest in the forest are involved in its management. To learn more and to register, go here.

Training in Indonesia to Cover Chain of Custody Schemes

Auditors, reviewers, and certification decision makers are invited to register for a PEFC recognised chain of custody initial training in Indonesia on 29-30 November and 2 December 2021. Attending a PEFC recognised chain of custody initial training is a pre-requisite for any auditor, reviewer or certification decision maker wishing to issue certification against the 2020 PEFC chain of custody related standards, as required by PEFC ST 2003. Issuing certification against the 2020 standards is only possible after the completion of either initial or refresher training, and once you are accredited, against the 2020 versions of the standards. Read more.

MTCC Appoints Siti Syaliza Mustapha as CEO for Malaysia

The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) has appointed Siti Syaliza Mustapha as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective 6 October. Siti Syaliza, who was MTCC Officer-in-Charge and Senior Manager (Forest Management), succeeds Yong Teng Koon who retired on 16 July. She is the first woman to helm the Council since it began its operations in 1999. She is also an Advisor to the Geneva-based Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) in the promotion of sustainable forest management and development of forest certification infrastructure in Southeast Asia. More from MTTC.

Still Time to Contribute to the Indonesia Market Survey

IFCC/PEFC survey for the Indonesian market has been extended so there's still time to contribute. How can IFCC/PEFC help the timber industry and its supply chain benefit from certification and help safeguard Indonesia's forests? Whether involved in the process or supply in the pulp & paper, timber, fashion, furniture or rubber sectors, everyone's opinion is valuable and IFCC/PEFC want to better understand how familiar everyone is with forestry certification in Indonesia. Read all about it here.

Thailand Promotes Certification for Economic Forest Industry

On Thursday 14 October, Mr Withi Supitak, Vice President of the Institute of Agricultural Industry (TISI) and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), led the Thai Economic Timber Certification Office (TFCC) team to meet Mr Sukit Chanthong, Acting Director of the Forest Industry Organisation (ODA). Together with the ODA executives, they discussed ways to promote the certification of economic forest plantations and wood products to align the national standards to the international PEFC standards. Read More.

How Forests Help People & the Planet Stay Healthy

Did you know that our forests have healing powers? Of the 3000 plants identified by the United States' National Cancer Institute as active against cancer cells, 70% come from rainforests. In total, more than 25% of the medicines we use originate in rainforest plants. Only if we use our forests, and manage them in a sustainable way, can we make sure they can stay forests, and we can continue to benefit from their healing powers. We also rely on forests to provide essential nutrients we need for our good health. So, as PEFC’s video series shows, people benefit greatly from healthy forests in more ways than one, as does the planet. Go to YouTube to see much more.  Learn more about the healing power of forests here.

New Standard for Chain of Custody & Tree Based Products

Taking place on Tuesday, 9 November (10.00am AWST, 12.00pm AEST and 1.00pm AEDT), a Responsible Wood webinar will introduce and explain the main changes in the AS 4707:2021 standard, providing the basis for the requirements that certificate holders can use in carrying Responsible Wood/PEFC claims in Australia. The workshop will be hosted by Responsible Wood CEO, Simon Dorries, and Peter Zed, Chair of the AS 4707 Standards Reference Committee. The reference committee and working group includes: the Association of Accredited Certification Bodies, Australian Forest Products Association, Australian Institute of Packaging, Omega Consulting, Timber Development Association, Tasmanian Forest Products Association, the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Forest Products Association, and the Women in Forestry Network. Read more & register here.

Forests in Kedah State Malaysia Granted Certification

MTCC is pleased to announce that the Kedah Forest Management Unit (FMU), managed by the Kedah State Forestry Department, has been granted certification against the requirements of the Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (MC&I SFM) standard on 1 October 2021. The certificate covering an area of 341,976 ha natural forests within the Permanent Reserved Forest in the Kedah FMU was approved by the Certification Panel of SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd. The certificate is valid for five years, subject to continued compliance based on yearly surveillance audits. It is one of the earliest FMUs in Peninsular Malaysia to be certified under the scheme, but lost its certification in 2019 due to failure to close a major non-conformity, raised during an annual surveillance audit. Read more.

Timber Buildings Go Beyond Net Zero to Whole Life Carbon

With COP 26 underway in Glasgow Scotland this week, it’s wise to remind ourselves that the built environment contributes close to 40% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. A large part of that comes from the energy used to heat, cool and light our buildings, but we should also be considering the embodied carbon incorporated in buildings, mostly from glass, steel and concrete. Timber helps on both counts, as you’ll read in Ken Hickson’s article in Wood in Architecture magazine.  He shares more about how buildings can go beyond Net Zero to achieve Whole Life Carbon (WLC) status. What is WLC all about and how does timber fit into the equation? He also referenced "Tomorrow's Timber", which was published with the support of PEFC Netherlands. Read and see more.

Finalists in the PEFC-WAF Best Use of Certified Timber Prize

Two finalists in the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize: a gymnastics centre and a research facility show the flexibility and robustness of timber. Have a look, above left, at the gymnastics centre that can be converted into an exhibition hall. The Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo was designed to function in two phases: initially as a temporary sports competition facility, hosting the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and later as a permanent exhibition hall. Then there's a research facility that chose timber for its robustness against corrosive sea air and cyclones. Pictured above right is the Turtle Centre in Queensland, a research facility at Mon Repos beach, Australia’s most important turtle nesting ground. It hosts key research into endangered turtles and the impacts of climate change. The building operates as an interpretive centre during the day. During the turtle nesting season it is a briefing hub for up to 300 visitors each evening.The winner will be announced at the World Architecture Festival in Lisbon, which runs from 1-3 December. Read and see more here.