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Certification and Procurement

Fern’s analysis: Whether to buy certified products is a choice consumers make on a near daily basis as certifications schemes exist for timber products, fish, organic food and many other items.

When it comes to forest products, there are two major certification schemes: the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Products and the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). The PEFC, created by the forestry sector in response to the creation of the FSC, has developed from a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise without any controls, to a genuine certification scheme. Despite these improvements, Fern’s 2001 report Behind the Logo and Fern’s 2005 report Footprints in the Forest found that the PEFC remained less rigorous than the FSC.

For many years Fern was an active supporter and member of the FSC. Its multi-stakeholder process was innovative and set a trend for other initiatives, including FLEGT.  In part thanks to FSC, good forest management is now widely seen as being a balancing act between economic, social and environmental values, rather than just as sustainable yield. This balancing act requires an inclusive, deliberative, multi-stakeholder process to set standards and processes. Lack of effective implementation of its standards, combined with an attempt – later abandoned – to certify forest carbon offsets, was, however, sufficient reason for Fern to hand in its membership in 2011.

Since then Fern’s focus has moved away from certification. Certification still has a clear role in improving forest and land management, but there are real limits to what certification can achieve. The real threats to forests today are climate change and over-consumption of forest and agricultural products, neither of which can be addressed by certification. In some cases, certification is even used as an excuse to not reduce consumption. The EU’s bioenergy policy is a good example - it encourages biofuels as long as they are certified, when it should be incentivising real renewables and dis-incentivising land based bioenergy.  There is a serious risk that future EU policies on bioenergy will make the same mistake for woody biomass

What Fern is doing: Fern is working to ensure that the EU develops and implements coherent policies that reduce the overall EU forest footprint, while increasing the percentage of commodities that are legally and sustainably sourced. Fern calls on the EU to develop a policy to reduce emissions in the forest and land sector by improving management and restoration of existing EU forests.

To learn more about our previous work on certification: see Fern's statement to the Forest Stewardship Council on withdrawing Fern's membership, Fern’s previous statement on FSC and Fern’s report analysing different certification schemes: Behind the Logo, Footprints in the forest and Buying a sustainable future.

Most recent publications

Playing with Fire: Human Misery, Environmental Destruction and Summer BBQs

With temperatures soaring across Europe this summer millions have enjoyed barbecues – and will continue to do so until the last drops of warm weather. Yet few are aware of the true cost of the charcoal they fire them with.

PDF iconPlaying with Fire FINAL.pdf1.16 MB

Assessment of the European Commission's proposal for the revision of Public Procurement Directives

The Network for sustainable development in public procurement (NSPP) has conducted an assessment of the European Commission's proposal for the revision of the Public Procurement Directives.

Statement from NGOs on the EU Ecolabel and Asia Pulp and Paper

In 2006 the EU Ecolabel was awarded to two brands of photocopy paper – Golden Plus and Lucky Boss – produced by the Indonesian company Pindo Deli, a subsidiary of APP. In 2010, FERN published “EU Ecolabel allows forest destruction – the case of Pindo Deli,” questioning how the Ecolabel could be awarded to paper from a company such as Pindo Deli. It also exposed the flaws of the system: overall lack of transparency of the EU Ecolabel award process, the lack of a formal complaints mechanism and the weakness of the criteria for providing an EU Ecolabel to copying and graphic paper.

PDF iconNGO_statement_APP.pdf186.49 KB

Letter from Asia Pulp and Paper's lawyer re: FERN's report on Pindo Deli

On 21 November 2011, FERN was sent the attached letter from APP's lawyers. We will not be removing the report 'EU Ecolabel allows forest destruction - the case of Pindo Deli' from our site as we stand by the information in that document and the conclusion the EU Ecolabel needs to improve its transparency. For further information please see 'The EU Ecolabel and Asia Pulp and Paper' an NGO statement signed onto by fourteen NGOs.

PDF iconAPP_lawyers_letter V2.pdf189.44 KB

Key demands and messages from the Network for Sustainable Development in Public Procurement

Joint press release from the Network for Sustainable Development in Public Procurement on the occasion of the European Commission's Conference "Modernising public procurement"

FERN statement to the Forest Stewardship Council on withdrawing FERN's membership

In a position paper presented to the FSC General Assembly in 2008, FERN and other FSC members from the environmental and economic chamber highlighted the changes necessary for the FSC to regain and retain its credibility. In 2009, FERN followed this up with a statement outlining that as a member of FSC, challenges to FSC’s credibility had a negative effect on FERN’s own credibility. The statement identified three courses of action that would lead to FERN terminating its FSC membership. 

PDF iconFERN leaving FSC.pdf624.85 KB