Striving to improve smallholder access to certification
27 May 2016 Group Certification
At the heart of PEFC is our ambition to enable smallholders to access forest certification, independent of region and socioeconomic condition. But there is more that can be done.
This was highlighted last week at the first meeting of Standards Revision Working Group 2, responsible for the revision of PEFC's Group Certification Standard and the development of a set of requirements for certification bodies operating audits in forest management.
The importance of strengthening the management system approach and of clearly describing the interaction between group members and group management was emphasized by representatives from the accreditation community. While the current standard already responds to these issues, their further development will support the use and expand the application of the standard.
Other important areas of discussion included internal audit procedures on how sampling is applied. In this context, technologies such as remote sensing can contribute to further enhancing the transparency and credibility of certification of large groups.
“This revised standard will enable us to improve the support we provide to small- and family forest owners around the world, ensuring we continue to be the certification system of choice for smallholders,” said Michael Berger, Head of Technical Unit at PEFC International, following the conclusion of the working group meeting.
The next steps
The working group decided to initially focus on revising the Group Certification Standard. The second part of the work of the group, the requirements for certification bodies, will be considered later this year. The latter work will be based on an existing enquiry draft which went through a public consultation back in 2013. At that time the further development of the document was interrupted due of formal reasons.
The next WG 2 meeting is planned for October 2016.
The revision process
WG 2 is one of six Working Groups currently embarked on the revision of several of our PEFC International Standards. WG 1: Sustainable Forest Management Standard and WG 3: Standard Setting Procedures have already completed their first meetings, with WG 6: Endorsement Process set to meet in early June.
There is currently a call for nominations for the remaining Working Groups - WG 4: Chain of Custody and Labelling and WG 5: Chain of Custody Certification Procedures.
These WGs will all meet 2-5 times to build consensus on the creation of an enquiry draft standard. This draft will then go through public consultation before approval and publication.