Vietnam takes a big step towards certified forests through PEFC endorsement

The Vietnam Forest Certification Office (VFCO) is the latest member of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification to achieve endorsement of its national forest certification system.

“It’s been a worthwhile process, and we are proud to have our national forest certification system endorsed by PEFC,” said Dr Bui Chinh Nghia, Chairman of VFCO.

“Realising that our national standards meet and even exceed the global sustainability benchmark in sustainable forest management strengthens our belief that we are on the right track to build an accessible national forest certification system. PEFC endorsement has recognised all our national collective efforts,” said Dr Nguyen Quoc Tri, Director General of the Vietnam Administration Forest.

VFCO started working towards the PEFC system in 2015, became a PEFC member in June 2019, and applied for endorsement in September 2019.

The certification of 12,000 hectares of Acacia and Rubber plantation by VFCS before the endorsement by PEFC has shown the substantial determination of Vietnamese stakeholders to make the national system work.

“We are delighted to be the first PEFC member to supply PEFC-certified natural rubber and rubberwood,” said Dr Bui.

“We are thankful for PEFC’s holistic approach in helping new members like us. The endorsement was not merely a technical scope of work,” added Dr Le Van Binh.

“In fact, we have received enormous support through projects and initiatives, which are extremely helpful to build our capacity, improve the market access for Vietnamese certified products and provide a platform to encourage stakeholders in sustainable forest management throughout the country.”

“Vietnam is an excellent example of PEFC’s effort and our unique approach, working together as an alliance, where we have mature members in the key consuming markets, helping new members like Vietnam to grow by offering market linkage supports,” highlighted Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International.

Next step ahead

While the endorsement of the national system is an outstanding achievement, the next plan is equally ambitious. VFCO targets 50,000 hectares of certified plantations in 2021, and is ready to test different mechanisms to make forest certification even more accessible to more small landowners and companies in the country.

Alongside certification expansion, building market acceptance of PEFC/VFCS certified products is another priority of VFCO.

“Continuous improvement of our national system to provide sustainability assurance and strengthen market confidence in our brand is our aim. VFCO is looking forward to collaborating with other PEFC family members for our success in the year to come,” highlighted Dr Bui.