India recently joined the select club of countries with their own globally-recognized forest certification scheme. Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) is a scheme developed by an Indian non-profit organization called Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF). It has attracted global recognition after being endorsed by a Geneva-based non-profit organization Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
What is the Forest Certification?
Forest certification is a movement started in the 1990s after the Rio Summit which involves using a science-based approach for managing forests and ensuring compliance by conducting third-party audits. There are three parts to forest certification – forest monitoring, tracing, and labelling timber and other forest products. The movement focused on tropical forests initially; however, later it covered boreal and temperate forests as well. There are several certification programmes followed by different countries, with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) being the most recognized among them.
India has a forest cover of 21.54% of the total land surface. Its timber and non-timber products have a huge market in the domestic and world market. However, there was no reliable forest certification programme for its huge green cover as yet. This called for an urgent need for such a program.
Benefits of the Scheme
- Responsible Forest Management – Monitoring, tracing, and labelling of forest products will ensure that the forestry statistics are maintained and the management of the forest resources is efficient, effective, and sustainable.
- Check on Illegal Trading – If all the products are certified, no illegal trading will occur.
- Export Impetus – Mandatory forest certifications for the export of products will give a boost to exports as the accessibility to developed markets will increase because of more reliability. Forest-based industries like timber, plywood, paper, and handicrafts will get a much-needed push.
As the global green cover is receding and global warming has become a reality, such initiatives play a very important role in protecting the green heritage of the world. The global applause received by India should motivate other countries to be a party to the efforts related to making the world more sustainable.