The New Zealand plantation forest industry was one of the first to embrace the concept of forest certification. The industry has largely thrown its weight behind the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme with the first certificates awarded in 1998. Ten years later in 2008, most of the larger forest companies are either FSC certified or working towards FSC certification.
In New Zealand, the concept of sustainable management has been enshrined in legislation since 1991.
The purpose of the Resource Management Act (RMA) is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
Sustainable management in the context of the RMA means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing.
These concepts are almost without exception central to the purpose and objectives outlined in the various forestry certification schemes that are now actively subscribed to on the international stage.
An example is the adoption of New Zealand Forest Owner’s Association Environmental Code of Practice that is now recognised as a key criterion for successful forest certification.
Increasingly the decision to become certified is driven by Government initiatives in the areas of procurement of paper and wood based products for Government and other public agencies, as well as sustainable building initiatives.
These initiatives are now beginning to influence private sector businesses in the way they think about their tenure of products through secure chain of custody practices at a domestic level.
Voluntary for New Zealand Grown Species.
The CAN/CSA-Z809 Sustainable Forest Management Standard (SFM) is a voluntary standard that was developed by an open and transparent multi-stakeholder consensus-based process based on the international Helsinki and Montreal processes.
It incorporates Canada’s own SFM criteria, which were developed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, as well as requiring the development of locally adapted indicators through a public consultation process.
The Standard links adaptive forest management to forest certification through 3 key requirements:
The standard was first published in 1996 through an open and inclusive process managed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
A quarter of the CSA SFM Technical Committee was comprised of forest producers including woodlot owners, while the remainder were scientists, academics, representatives of Provincial and Federal Governments, and environmental, consumer, union and aboriginal representatives.
The current version of the standard, Z809-V2, was published in December 2002 following extensive review that was required within 5 years of the original publication date.
Similar to other certification standards, the CSA Standard has system requirements that are consistent with the internationally recognised ISO 14001 EMS standard but also sets out performance requirements that must be specific to each local forest.
The principle of “continual improvement” is central to the standard which uses adaptive management procedures that recognise SFM as a dynamic process that must incorporate new knowledge acquired through time, experience and research and must evolve with society’s changing environmental, social and economic values.
To become certified a company must go through a 3rd party independent audit of the SFM requirements plus annual reviews and a full re-registration is required every 3 years.
Chain of custody certification is available to entities for linking the forests certified under CAN/CSA Z-809 to forest products and consumers.
This is undertaken via PEFC Annex 4 and certificate holders can apply to use the CSA SFM product mark or the PEFC product mark.
CAN/CSA Z-809 certification currently covers approximately 80 forests with a total area of 78m hectares throughout Canada.
There are currently about 60 CSA Chain of Custody certificates.
To provide a taste of CAN/CSA Z-809 requirements, these have been summarised below:
CAN/CSA Z-809 is unlikely to have relevance for New Zealand in the future unless New Zealand develops its own forestry standard and seeks recognition via the PEFC route.