Forest Certification is a system that verifies forests are managed to a defined best practice and sustainable standard leading to a certificate issued by a recognised independent party. Certification works throughout the forest supply chain with the aim of promoting good practice in the forest and to ensure and verify that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with respect to ecological, social and ethical standards. A chain of custody system further ensures traceability of certified materials from the forest to the processors and ultimately to the consumer. Through labelling, customers and consumers are able to identify products from such sustainably managed forests.
In Ireland national standards have been in place for each of these international schemes since 2011 and 2012 respectively:
- PEFC Irish Forest Certification Standard (Endorsed December 2011, Revised 2014)
The 3rd Edition of the PEFC Irish Forest Certification Standard underwent 60-day Public Consultation until 29th August 2021.
The Irish Forest Certification Standard has been submitted to PEFC for assessment. Public consultation on this revised standard was undertaken between 12 December 2022 and 9 February 2023.
This revised IFCI standard is currently pending.
See also www.pefc.ie for further information on PEFC Ireland.
- Irish Forest Stewardship Standard (May 2012)
In the absence of a registered Irish Standard Development Group, Soil Association Certification were tasked with the adaptation of the International Standard for local conditions in Ireland. Between November 2021 and June 2022, two stakeholder consultation excercises were undertaken, through an independent consultant who acted as intermediary between stakeholders, before being submitted to the International Body for review. A final opportunity to comment was provided to participating stakeholders in March 2023. This revised standard is currently pending.
Both forest certification schemes aim to ensure that:
- The Law is being adhered to
- Health & safety standards are being met
- Good forest management is being practised
- Activity in the forest has no negative impact on existing flora and fauna
- Efforts are being made to increase biodiversity
To check that the above objectives are being met, Auditors will look for verifiable evidence at the time of inspection.
As part of the group certification project, an extensive list of potential documents required for forest certification was identified.
For forest owners verifiable evidence means record keeping.
Some examples of appropriate records are listed below:
Verbal agreements [Not appropriate, as verbal agreements are not verifiable]
Written agreements / contracts
Photographic evidence (where applicable)
Detailed Forest Management Plan (FMP)
Records of 'Monitoring' (e.g. 'forest diary' or record of site visits)
The Forest Management Plan (FMP) should detail planned activities and objectives for the Forest Management Unit (FMU) for the short, medium and long term.