Focusing in on the key sustainable forest management issues: Task Forces get to work

Trees outside forests, forest conversions, and non-wood forest products and ecosystem services: three of the key areas identified for extra attention as we revise our international standard for sustainable forest management.

In order to gain more insight into these three vital areas, three Task Forces have been created to analyze the specific challenges in detail, and feed their findings and recommendations back into the working draft of the standard.

Each Task Force is made up of members from Working Group 1– the group responsible for the revision of the sustainable forest management standard, alongside additional experts to support the work. All three groups met for the first time in June and will provide preliminary concepts and ideas to the WG in October.

For some time there has been a proposition that plantations can potentially support sustainable forest management, when wood logged in natural forests is substituted and supplemented by wood production from timber plantations.

This is especially important in light of an expected growth in demand for timber as a sustainable, carbon-neutral and renewable resource towards a green economy, and the multifunctional use of global forest resources.

While the certification of plantations established by conversions after 31 December 2010 is prohibited by PEFC, stakeholders have noted that the simple notion of a cut-off date may therefore no longer be appropriate.

The Task Force will focus on the development of innovative, forward-looking approaches that comprehensively balance sustainable natural forest management with plantation conservation benefits.

Trees outside forests
Trees outside forests are an important natural resource that contribute substantially to national biomass and carbon stocks and to the livelihoods of people in many regions.  At the local level, people have long relied on trees outside forests in various land-use settings for food security, income and biological diversity.

PEFC has a long history in working on the better consideration of trees outside forests in our standard framework. This Task Force will develop recommendations for the Working Group on how to allow the consideration of trees originating from sustainably managed landscapes in a sustainable use of natural resources.

Non-wood forest products & ecosystem services
Sustainable forest management does not only generate timber but also non-wood forest products such as game animals, nuts, seeds, berries, mushrooms, oils, medicinal plants and  fuelwood.

Several million households globally depend heavily on these products for subsistence and/or income, and about 80 percent of the population of the developing world is estimated to use non-wood forest products for health and nutritional needs. Women from poor households are generally those who rely more on non-wood forest products for household use and income.

While the certification of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) is already covered in our PEFC sustainable forest management standard, we are looking to further strengthen the role of these NWFPs in the implementation of our sustainable forest management and Chain of Custody standards.

This Task Force is also looking more closely at the recent developments concerning ecosystem services. We have already developed knowledge and experience with pilot projects in this area, and will further develop the approaches to anchor such concepts in the regular standard implementation.

Get involved!
If you want to get involved in the sustainable forest management standard revision process and share your views on the issues discussed within the TFs, then join the PEFC SFM Expert Forum! More information about the Forum and the registration link can be found here.

You can also stay up-to-date on the standards revision process by signing up to the special Standards Revision newsletter or by visiting the Standards Revision website.

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