Forest15.04.2014

Forest certification a prerequisite for wood sales

Quality forest management has long tradition in Finland.

Quality forest management has long tradition in Finland.

In Finland, forest certification has become increasingly important for forest owners wishing to sell wood.

Forest certification is nothing new in Finland: more than 90% of the country’s forests are PEFC certified. PEFC certification arrived in Finland over ten years ago, in 2000.

FSC certification, on the other hand, is somewhat more recent. Finland’s national FSC standard was approved as part of the international system in 2011. Since then, approximately 500,000 hectares of Finnish forests have been FSC certified, which corresponds to around 2% of all of Finland’s forests. The FSC-certified Finnish forests are mainly owned by companies.

On a global scale, the PEFC scheme is more widely used than the FSC system, but in recent years, more products made from FSC-certified materials have been sold than those made from PEFC-certified materials.

Certification, therefore, is an important prerequisite for wood sales.
“It’s starting to be a minimum requirement. For example, many buyers of plywood and timber require that the wood is certified,” says Sauli Olkkonen, supervisor in charge of quality and measurement at Koskitukki, describing the benefits of certification.

Group certification an easy way to certify a forest

The majority of Finnish private forests are covered by PEFC group certification.
“This harks back to when group certification first came to Finland. All members of forest management associations were automatically included in group certification, unless they specifically refused to join,” Olkkonen explains.

FSC certification can also be applied for as group certification, which makes it easier for small-scale forest owners in particular to certify their forests.

No major differences between certificates

Double certification might be useful for future forest owners, even though the certificates do not present any major differences. In Sweden, for example, double certification is already widespread. The FSC label is highly valued in global markets in particular, but in Finland too consumers are increasingly keen on knowing that a wood product comes from well and sustainably managed forests.

Both certification schemes have a shared goal: sustainable forest management that balances ecological values and wood production. The biodiversity and the cultural and recreational values of forests are preserved while at the same time practicing productive and socially sustainable forestry.

FSC has a slightly different focus than PEFC, but both systems have a lot in common as well. The biggest differences between the certificates stem from, among other things, the fact that FSC certification was originally developed for the needs of large-scale logging operations in rainforests and the indigenous peoples living in the areas concerned.

“FSC certification has slightly different requirements concerning forest management, logging operations and protection compared to the PEFC system. Under the FSC system, at least ten logs of more than 20 cm and a minimum of 20 decaying trees must be left per hectare,” Olkkonen explains.

On the other hand, the Finnish FSC allows the extraction of stumps, a topic that was subject to lengthy debate when Finland’s national certification system was being created. Under the PECF system, a maximum of 5% of forest is excluded from forest operations and 10 decaying trees are left standing per hectare.

Koskitukki has both FSC and PEFC certification

Koskitukki has both PEFC and FSC chain-of-custody certificates for wood. In the future, it wishes to buy more FSC-certified wood, as it is important for the further-processed product that the purchased wood has both certificates.

"Even though FSC certification is still relatively unknown in Finland, many wish for it to gain more ground in the future. FSC-labeled products are increasingly popular among consumers, and in the birch and plywood industry as well, the FSC certificate is already a condition for wood sales in certain geographical areas,” says Koskisen’s Quality Manager Anna-Maaret Roppola.