India launches national forest certification system

India is well on its way to achieving PEFC endorsement, finally launching its national forest certification system at the NCCF conference in New Delhi on January 16.

NCCF, short for the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests, is a PEFC member and has been working with stakeholders from around the country to develop the national sustainable forest management standard. It joined the PEFC alliance in 2015.

“Given the size of India and the diversity of its forests, the development of a national system is no small task,” said Sarah Price, Head of Projects and Development at PEFC International. “I am delighted to be here to witness the launch of India’s national forest certification system.”

“NCCF is simultaneously developing certification standards for the Trees outside Forests (ToF), Protected Areas and Wetlands (PAWs) and Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs),” added Sachin Raj Jain, Convener and Treasurer of NCCF. “We are also planning to initiate the process for development of other sustainable standards for sustainable ecotourism and sustainable mining.”

India has practised scientific management of forests since 1864. Initially, forest management was predominantly focused on timber extraction, but now there is paradigm shift to achieve sustainable ecosystems as well as the sustained availability of ecosystem services and livelihoods of tribal people, and other forest dependent communities, said Shri Siddhanta Das, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Government of India, at the NCCF conference.

India has also pledged to increase its forest resources by 2030 with a target of 33 per cent cover or an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 Gt CO2.

“It has been remarkable to see the steady, systematic progress that NCCF and stakeholders have made over the past three years,” said Price. “Now with the national system complete, we very much look forward to receiving it so we can get started on the assessment process and eventual PEFC endorsement of their system.”

Now that the national forest certification system has been finalised, and their national sustainable forest management standard approved, the next step is submission to PEFC for endorsement.

Once submitted, it will go through a rigorous assessment, which includes an assessment done by an independent PEFC Registered Assessor and a global public consultation.

After passing this the assessment process, the PEFC General Assembly will vote on its endorsement.