There are two forest certification schemes in use in Finland that are similar in content: PEFC and FSC. Since Koskisen buys its domestic wood exclusively from private forests, the PEFC mark is largely the one that appears on the company’s timber products.
Although PEFC certification is used in Europe, North America and Australia, to name a few, it is still relatively unknown among international customers. Jussi Joensuu, Chief Forester in charge of Koskitukki Oy’s wood procurement, has responded to questions from customers of Koskisen’s Birch Products industry concerning whether the company’s wood has been felled in native people’s forests and whether it has been purchased from genetically modified forests. The questions were at first quite surprising for Joensuu, who is very familiar with the scheme, but with similar messages arriving weekly, it became clear to him that awareness of PEFC was low.
“The problem is that customers are not familiar with PEFC certification and don’t make the connection to the more widely known FSC certification, which is similar in content to PEFC. We follow the PEFC scheme because it is the predominant programme in Finland and other Western European private forests,” explains Joensuu.
He says Koskisen’s international customers are not aware that most of Finland’s forests constitute family-owned forests.
“It must be thoroughly explained to them that we use PEFC because it can be better applied to group certification than FSC, and at the same time it guarantees that the forest is managed in an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable way. At least for now, the FSC label would have to be applied for one forest owner at a time, and that would be a quite complicated undertaking.”
Auvo Kaivola, Chief Secretary of PEFC Finland, is aware of the certificate’s low level of recognition that Joensuu is talking about.
“We have to remember that FSC was introduced first, so in terms of establishing an image, it has had a head start over PEFC. During the early phase of devising the PEFC certificate, the focus was on ensuring that the system was developed in such a way that it applied to both forestry and harvesting.”
Kaivola says that last year increasing the awareness of and marketing for PEFC’s was listed as a strategically important factor for the international PEFC. In Finland, PEFC will be called to consumers’ attention, for example, at the Habitare Fair to be held in September and at the Finnbuild Fair in October.
“In surveys conducted by independent third parties, PEFC was considered just as effective as FSC in terms of sustainable forestry. Unfortunately, that is still not enough for everyone who handles purchases of wood or other further-processed wood products. Getting the message out is a major collaborative effort that we are involved in together with wood-products manufacturing companies.”
The operations of the FSC and the certifying authorities are based on ten main principles and certain forest management criteria based on them. Certification is particularly used in large-scale forestry. FSC’s international principles apply to tropical, temperate and boreal forests. The FSC aims to have each country draw up national good forest management standards that apply to the specific conditions. The FSC’s headquarters are in Bonn, Germany.
PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) is a forest certification scheme that originated in Europe but has since spread to other continents. The PEFC symbol indicates that the product is made of wood that stems from certified forests that have been managed in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable way. An independent third-party certification body ensures that forest management and utilisation comply with the requirements of the PEFC’S national standards and that in the delivery and production chain of wood-based products, the traceability of the wood can be maintained in a manner prescribed by the international PEFC standards. The right to use the PEFC symbol on products is granted by the national PEFC organisation – such as PEFC Finland – to the holder of a valid Chain-of-Custody certificate. The PEFC’s central office is in Geneva, Switzerland.