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Leading the World in Independent Certification

by Ellen Cools

Forest Management and Chain of Custody Certification

Canada’s stringent forest management practices are backed up by internationally-recognized third-party forest management certifications. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has a national standard for Canada. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) endorses two Canadian forest management certifications: Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). These certification programs share the common goals of providing third-party assurance of sustainable forest management.

The    forest    management    certifications    are supplemented by third-party certification of chain-of-custody to the standards of FSC, PEFC or SFI.   Chain of  custody  certifications  prove  that  sustainability  is maintained as fibre changes hands along the supply chain from the forest to the end customer.

All  forest  certification  programs  used  in  Canada promote  principles,  criteria  and  objectives  that  are viewed around the world as the basis of sustainable forest management. Each has balanced governance, with  boards  representing  environmental,  social  and economic  interests  and  all  revise  their  standards regularly through an open public process. They  also  evaluate  for  basic  forest  stewardship  by ensuring  that  harvested  areas  are  reforested,  that laws are obeyed and that there is no unauthorized or illegal logging.

They ensure biological diversity is conserved, timber is harvested sustainably, and wildlife habitat, soils and water resources are conserved.

Certifications  are  carried  out  by  independent, internationally  recognized  certification  bodies  that annually assess forestry operations against standards for  sustainable  forest  management.    This,  coupled with  strong  forest  management  laws,  supports Canada’s  reputation  as  a  source  of  legally  and sustainably produced forest products.  When it comes to forest certification, Canada leads the world with an estimated 168 million hectares certified. 

Sustainable Biomass Program

Europe and Asia are third-party certified to the standards  of  the  Sustainable  Biomass  Program (SBP).    SBP  was  set  up  in  2013  to  provide assurance  that  woody  biomass  –  mainly  wood pellets  and  wood  chips  used  for  large-scale energy  production  –  is  sourced  from  legal  and sustainable  sources.    But  rather  than  replacing established  forest  certification  programs,  SBP recognizes  FSC  and  PEFC  standards,  including those  endorsed  by  PEFC,  such  as  SFI  and  CSA forest  management  standards,  and  chain-of-custody  certified  fibre  through  FSC,  PEFC  and SFI.

While  the  vast  majority  of  fibre  from  Canada comes  from  certified  forests,  any  uncertified fibre must be evaluated against SBP criteria, and the wood pellet manufacturer must carry out a risk assessment to identify the risk of compliance against 38 SBP indicators covering 16 criteria for legality and sustainability.

While   FSC,   SFI   and   CSA   do   not   include requirements  for  reporting  energy  data,  SBP  fills this gap by creating a framework for suppliers to report third-party verified energy data associated with  biomass  production  and  transportation  to the generators that purchase their pellets enabling them to calculate GHG emissions savings .Like  the  three  forest  management  certification programs,  SBP  incorporates  the  use  of  external audits and third-party certification by independently accredited certification bodies.

To learn more about the Sustainable Biomass Program, visit www.sbp-cert.org.