PEFC endorses new benchmarks, Responsible Wood director presents to the General Assembly and PEFC elect Tasmanian forester to peak board…
The Responsible Wood delegation at General Assembly

“NOVEMBER 14 was a future defining day for PEFC,” secretary-general Ben Gunneberg said as the PEFC general assembly in Geneva voted on the approval of the revised Sustainable Forest Management and Group Forest Management Certi­cation benchmark standards.

“We are delighted to announce that both standards were approved,” Mr Gunneberg said.

This approval is the ­final step in the development and revision of PEFC standards, which began in 2016.

This new benchmark extends the impact of PEFC certification beyond forests and enhances its contribution to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

“We have expanded the social requirements to include minimum wages for forest workers, equal opportunities for employment and non-discrimination, and promote gender equality,” Mr Gunneberg said.

“There are also enhanced provisions designed to safeguard the interests of indigenous peoples.”

With the inclusion of the Trees outside Forests program, PEFC certification will become accessible to the millions of farmers and smallholders that do not own or manage forests, but rather trees on agricultural or settlement land that are currently outside the scope of certification.

Mr Gunneberg said around 10% of forests were certified globally.

“Our current strategy is certainly suitable to more than double this number, but we now need to start addressing the needs of the remaining 80% of global forestry to ensure it too becomes sustainable and is key in addressing societal challenges such as climate change,” he said.

London-based Peter Latham, OBE, former chairman of James Latham PLC, one of Britain’s oldest timber companies, was re-elected chair of PEFC International for another three years.

Responsible Wood director delivers daring design message to PEFC General Assembly

Responsible Wood director, Mark Thomson, was invited to address the PEFC General Assembly.  

Attending as part of the Responsible Wood delegation, Mr Thomson stressed the importance of targeting architects, engineers and building designers, the end specifiers of timber-based products on projects.

“Specifiers of PEFC certified material is such an important target market, there is so much misinformation and confusion in the marketplace, we must distinguish PEFC certified building materials as a point of difference,” Mr Thomson said.

Appointed to the Responsible Wood board in November 2017, as a registered architect, Mr Thomson is the first architect to be elected to the board of a PEFC National Governing Body.

“For so many architects certification of materials is a low priority, many specifiers have a low level engagement and involvement with environmental certification. For many, the decision lies in material selection. Our challenge is to communicate and educate specifiers about the benefits of PEFC certification.”

“In Australia we differentiate PEFC on the basis of specifies of timber that is certified under our certification scheme, however that distinction can change from country to country and scheme to scheme.”

“The key is education. We must align marketing and communication with specifiers to structured continuing professional development (CPD) programmes. If we can align PEFC education with aligned CPD outcomes we can dramatically improve reach amongst end specifiers of timber-based products on projects,” Mr Thomson said.

Tasmanian forester elected to the PEFC Board

New PEFC Board Member

Tasmanian professional forester Suzette Weeding was among newly-elected board members of PEFC.

Ms Weeding, who is forest management general manager at Sustainable Timber Tasmania, has more than 16 years direct experience in environmental management, stakeholder engagement and management of natural and cultural values and areas of significant biodiversity.

She is also a trustee on the JW Gottstein Memorial Trust Fund.