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Indonesia's Forest-Based Companies Gain International Certification

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According to an article published this past week by The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Indonesia, the nation’s forest-based companies such as pulp and paper producers are set for improved access to the international market via a globally recognized sustainable forest-management certification.

The opportunities are now available after the endorsement of the Indonesian Forestry Certification Cooperation (IFCC) program by the Geneva-based Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which claims to be the world’s leading forest certification system, besides the Bonn-based Forest Stewardship Council.

The IFCC gained the endorsement from the PEFC after about a two-year rigorous assessment process for national forest certification systems seeking international recognition. The PEFC requires all standards to be developed through comprehensive, multi-stakeholder and consensus-based processes at the national level with all the standard requirements.

"We will go all out to maintain this credibility," noted IFCC chairman Dradjad Wibowo after accepting the endorsement certificate from PEFC CEO and Secretary-General Ben Gunneberg this past week.

Forest certification, which is required by most major consumer organizations, retail giants, and forest-based manufacturers around the world, represents a mechanism to verify and promote socially responsible, environmentally appropriate, and economically viable forest management.

Dradjad explained all standards had been subjected to an independent third-party evaluation, a global public consultation, a review by experts, and consideration by the PEFC board of directors before PEFC members decided on endorsing a particular national system.  Dradjad said the IFCC members included businesses and civil society organizations and its certification program had been developed in compliance with local, national, and global standards in a cooperative spirit, not based on adversarial relationships or negative campaigning.

"We joined the IFCC as a business member because the principles and criteria it applies comply with those of the PEFC, which are globally recognized. This is important for us because we export to many countries," noted Kusnan Rahmin, president of Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper. 

Dradjad added that the IFCC had involved a wide range of stakeholders in its board of directors, board of supervisors, and in the development of its national forest certification system and said the PEFC endorsement confirmed "that we comply with globally recognized sustainability benchmarks."

Forest owners and companies will now be able to demonstrate good practice via the certification, regaining the trust of the marketplace that has been lost over the past decade. 

In addition to market-required international certification, Indonesian forest-based products, including pulp and paper, must also gain certification under the wood legality and traceability program operated under a bilateral agreement between the Indonesian government and the EU.

Gunneberg said the PEFC did not apply a "one size fits all" principle in developing the globally recognized principles and criteria of its certification plan as each national forest certification system should create, through a multi-stakeholder consultation, its own sustainability benchmarks within their national context.

"We’re focusing on helping develop an independent, national certification system through capacity building programs, and we’ve made available online to the public all assessment documents to ensure full transparency of the process," added PEFC council board member Joseph Lawson.

Gunneberg said the 15-year-old PEFC had so far certified more than 265 million hectares of forests around the world and had developed almost 40 national forest certification systems, including those in Indonesia, China, and Japan, which were globally recognized because they met PEFC sustainability benchmarks.

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