23 November, 2018
International forest certification body PEFC endorses locally developed South African standard
Germishuizen (centre), member of the SAFAS national
governing body, receives
the SAFAS endorsement certificate from Peter Latham
(Chairman of PEFC board)
(left) and Ben Gunneberg (CEO and secretary general of PEFC)
at the recent
General Assembly meeting in Switzerland.
On 14 November,
its general assembly in Geneva, the Programme for
Endorsement of Forest Certification
(PEFC) announced its endorsement of the South African
Scheme (SAFAS), a local initiative that seeks to make forest
accessible to small-scale timber growers.
the demand for sustainably produced and certified forest
both abroad and locally, certification is becoming a trade
barrier to small-scale forestry units and emerging timber
growers. "It is these farmers that most need
support, access to markets and development to ensure a vibrant
forest industry that promotes social development in poor rural
Craig Norris, SAFAS national governing body member and forest
manager for NCT Forestry.
about 80% of the plantation area has been certified to the
international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.
standards are internationally recognised and generic, they are
and not well suited to small-scale timber growers, which means
large organisations tend to certify their plantations,"
Michael Peter, executive director of Forestry South Africa,
comprises around 20,000 small-scale growers as well as 1,300
commercial growers and 11 large corporate growers. "As the
SAFAS standard is
home grown, directly relevant to a range of South African
conditions and more
flexible with respect to group schemes, we hope that this move
the full involvement of small-scale growers and improve the
sustainability of the forestry industry."
says it also
gives South Africa an alternative certification scheme in
which there is far
more ownership and control. "This spreads the risk of having
access to only one
How it all began
Over four years ago, a small working group from the
South African forestry industry got
together with the vision of developing a forestry standard and
scheme that would be directly applicable and appropriate to
plantation forestry in South Africa. Using
Government's Principles, Criteria, Indicators and Standards
sustainable forest management as a starting point, and through
consultation, negotiation and testing, SAFAS was born. The
process was in
accordance with the requirements of the PEFC with the
intention of obtaining
this international endorsement and recognition.
to be done before the system can be fully implemented is to
accreditation body to approve certification bodies that can
carry out audits
against the standard," says Norris. Various options are being
pursued by the
SAFAS national governing body.
general assembly, Ben Gunneberg, PEFC International CEO and
said, "Sustainable forest management goes beyond
safeguarding forest as an
ecosystem. It is also about securing sustainable livelihoods
for the hundreds
of millions of people living, working and depending on
forests. It is also
about rural communities, about indigenous people, about
small-scale, family run
enterprises, providing countless jobs far away from cities.
It is about all of
us truly valuing the numerous benefits forests provide us
|The South African Forestry Accreditation
Scheme seeks to make forest certification more accessible to
||The locally developed forest certification
scheme will assist
small-scale timber farmers by
facilitating access to
markets, thus ensuring a vibrant sustainable forest industry
social development in rural areas.