The certification of timber producers is generally seen as the logical next step in the development of a sustainable and viable small-scale forest industry – a process where WWF can play a strong role.
Certification recognizes logging and timber trade operations which have committed to and implemented responsible social and environmental practices. Such practises allow companies to expand their markets to reach responsible buyers.
But there are some stumbling blocks. For small-scale timber producers the costs of certification can be prohibitive and the necessary systems and procedures too complex for them to participate in without outside assistance and support.
Easing companies and communities into the certification process
For WWF, reducing that access barrier is a priority. Therefore, in Papua New Guinea (PNG) we are acting in an advisory role in developing the Forest Management and Product Certification Service (FORCERT) organization so that it can assist the certification of new producer members.
The results of feasibility studies for FORCERT are encouraging, as there is a clear interest by small-scale producers for certification.
The FORCERT machine in action
Working with partners such as NGOs, research institutes and the government, FORCERT will manage a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
forest management group certificate. Individual producers that meet the certificate standards will be eligible to become group members.
Certification is based on credibility. Hence, all FORCERT members will be monitored at least once a year to ensure they continue to meet all group certificate standards.
A budding tool for growth in forest certification
FORCERT is a major leap forward in responsible forest management. If enough logging companies and forest communities can be found to commit to certification, the organization will be increasingly active in the years to come – for the greater benefit of the Forests of New Guinea.