The Chinese government is immediately enacting a new national forest certification regulations, recognising PEFC and requiring all forest products to be certified against national standards.

These rules set out the scope, framework, and requirements for all forest certifications operating in China. All forest certification activities must comply with the forest certification requirements, which require adherence to Chinese national certification standards.

This means China is putting recognition of its national standards before foreign certification standards.

“This is an important and historic step in China for forestry workers, forest dependent-communities and the forests,” PEFC International CEO Ben Gunneberg said. “It recognised the extensive work undertaken by a multitude of stakeholders to develop both the CFCC Chinese national forest certification and chain of custody certification standards and system.

“In addition, both these national standards have been thoroughly assessed, resulting in international recognition through PEFC endorsement.”

Gunneberg will be guest speaker at an Australian Forestry Standard industry dinner in Melbourne on March 21 – the International Day of Forests.

As China’s CFCC is PEFC-endorsed, the country’s new regulation effectively means that all certified Chinese forest fibre must meet PEFC’s sustainability benchmarks and be audited by PEFC authorised auditors.

In China, it puts an end to the use of unauthorised and unaccredited certification bodies. These must now be registered and accredited by national accreditation bodies belonging to the global certification/accreditation organisation the International Accreditation Forum, which is the only internationally recognised standard bearer for all certification systems.

“As a trade attorney it is welcome news that Chinese forest products will now all be audited to IAF approved processes and procedure following ISO guidelines,” said Sheam Satkuru-Granzella, vice chair of the PEFC International Board of Directors.

PEFC International chair William Street vowed that his organisation would do everything possible to help China transition seamlessly to the new standards.

“PEFC’s respect for national sovereignty and our commitment to empower and support our national governing body approach means that those who are most effected by certification decisions have a direct voice and vote in how their own national and local forests are managed,” he said.

CFCC chair Wang Wei said that to ensure the global success of sustainable forest management, it “needs to be developed and supported by stakeholders nationally. In addition, it needs global recognition to internationally recognised benchmarks for sustainable forest management.”

Meanwhile, Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) accepted the certificate of re-endorsement of the national forestry standard certification system from PEFC at the PEFC General Assembly in Switzerland. The Australian system has been extended by PEFC for another five years, which confirms that the Australian Forest Certification Scheme continues to meet PEFC’s globally-recognised sustainability benchmarks.

AFS said this “also ensures that certified forest owners and companies in Australia continue to benefit from the global acceptance of PEFC.”

Re-endorsement of the scheme is significant, as Australia becomes the first non-European country to be recognised by PEFC. Since then, more than 10 million hectares of forest has been certified in Australia.