September newsletter – Forestry South Africa has been chosen for Forest Stewardship Council® FSC® environmental and social indicators pilot study

Plantation forests make up only 10% of globally certified areas but produce over 40% of certified products. With the demand for wood-based products expected to quadruple by 2050, the role of plantation forestry in meeting this rise in demand is becoming increasingly important.

While those in the Industry recognise FSC certified plantations provide several additional benefits above and beyond being highly efficient at providing wood, as certified plantations are required to comply with FSC environmental and social requirements. Plantations are often criticised for having much lower, if any, social and environmental values compared to natural forests.

On this backdrop, the principal objective of this project is to collect facts and figures concerning FSC certified plantations and their role in the mosaic forest landscape they are part of. As a desk study, conducted in collaboration with FSC certified plantation owners and the FSC network, the project aims to identify the positive impacts of FSC certified plantations beyond satisfying the market’s demand for FSC certified products.

Two regions, South Africa and Australia/New Zealand were selected based on their long history of FSC certification and the availability of industry documentation. Both countries are currently in the first stages of identifying potential social and environmental indicators that represent the global social and environmental values FSC certification strives to uphold.

Initially, pilot scheme countries will just help identify relevant indicators and the availability of the information about them. These potential indicators will then be collated by FSC and sent out for consultation.

Only once the indicators have been formally selected and the database finalised will FSC certificate holders be asked to input any data relating to some, or all, of these indicators into the FSC database and update them periodically (3 to 5 years).

The database will provide a system that enables:

  1. A set of facts and figures on the role FSC certified plantations have in conservation and restoration in SA and Australia/New Zealand – later all countries with FSC certified plantations.
  2. Countries with FSC certified plantations to identify their contributions to natural resource management.
  3. Identification of the potential for using FSC certification as a tool to document the benefits of responsible plantation management.
  4. Potential to convince authorities of the benefits of FSC and certified plantation forestry in achieving the commitments of Paris and other UN targets.
  5. A proactive story about FSC certified plantations/benefits and their role in a changing world.

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