India making strides on the system development challenge!

Developing a national forest certification system for India is a big job. The country is vast, the forests are diverse, and with a population of over 1.2 billion, there are a lot of stakeholders to involve!

Taking on this monumental task is the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), our National member in India.

India has a rich heritage of forest, with breathtaking diversity in terms of species, ecological zones, forest types and sub types, as well as a diversity and range of forest goods and services. NCCF is working to ensure that all these aspects are taken into consideration as the national standard for sustainable forest management is developed.

The work begins
While NCCF is responsible for the development of the standards, they do not do the work alone. The standards themselves will be developed through a multi-stakeholder group including representatives from forestry research and academic institutions, professional foresters, forest-based industries, business groups, WWF, IUCN, WRI, BWI and host of NGOs (social and environmental), workers and trade unions, and certification bodies.

Ensuring stakeholder engagement
As the draft standards take shape, it is vital that stakeholders from around the country can provide their own input and suggestions. With the size and population of India, ensuring that everyone can be involved is no small task.

Following an extensive stakeholder mapping exercise, which divided the country into five separate bio-geographical zones, more than 1000 regional and national stakeholders were identified. Every one of these stakeholders was subsequently contacted in order to gain their feedback and comments.

Field interaction 6Field teams also headed out into the country to hold detailed stakeholder consultation meetings with specific stakeholders, including state forest departments, NGOs, institutions, consultants and industry.

What lies ahead?
The comments from the stakeholder engagement will now help in the development and refinement of the indicators and verifiers in the sustainable forest management standard.

The first version of this standard will then have a two month public consultation, while at the same time consultation workshops in collaboration with the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) will be conducted in the different regions of the country, as an extended part of the consultation process.

The revised standard will be pilot tested to monitor the feasibility of the standard in the field, and once finalized the standard will be placed for approval by NCCF.

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