When it comes to forest products, there are two major certification schemes: the PEFC and the FSC.
The PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Products), created by the forestry sector in response to the creation of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), has developed from a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise without any controls, to a genuine certification scheme. Despite these improvements, Fern’s 2001 report Behind the Logo and Fern’s 2005 report Footprints in the Forest found that the PEFC remained less rigorous than the FSC.
For many years Fern was an active supporter and member of the FSC.
Its multi-stakeholder process was innovative and set a trend for other initiatives, including FLEGT. In part thanks to FSC, good forest management is now widely seen as being a balancing act between economic, social and environmental values, rather than just as sustainable yield. This balancing act requires an inclusive, deliberative, multi-stakeholder process to set standards and processes. Lack of effective implementation of its standards, combined with an attempt – later abandoned – to certify forest carbon offsets, was, however, sufficient reason for Fern to rescind its membership in 2011.
Fern no longer works directly on certification. Instead we focus our efforts on ensuring the EU reduces its overall forest footprint, and only imports commodities that are legally and sustainably sourced (see our consumption work).