Sustainable Forest Management & Certification Schemes
Forests are an extremely important part of the environment. Well-managed sustainable forests provide multiple benefits to society, such as green jobs affecting livelihoods, ecosystem services and biodiversity, and helping to tackle climate change.
To ensure the long-term health of European forests, sustainable forest management highlights how the paper industry operates and sources its main raw material.
What Does ‘Sustainably Managed Forests’ Mean?
A sustainably managed forest is where a large woodland area for cultivating, is managed with careful consideration to ensure healthy forest growth. This ensures that the wood harvested meets society’s needs whilst having a considerably reduced impact on the environment. Thus helping to increase biodiversity within forests, protect habitats, encourage forest growth in a sustainable way and reduce global warming, as trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow.
What Are Forest Certification Schemes?
Several schemes exist to ensure forests are sustainably managed. The two most recognised are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™).
Both the FSC® and PEFC™ schemes are very similar. They are both displayed to show credibility and draw attention to products and packaging that support responsible forest management.
They also work to continue conserving the natural habitats of plants and animals and respecting the rights of forestry workers and local communities. Both operate robust chain of custody schemes that track wood and wood fibre through every step of the supply chain, from the forest to your shopping trolley.
Did you know that nearly 105 million hectares, 52% of the forest area in Europe, is certified?
[Forest Europe, 2021]
Look Out For The Certification Label
When you’re out shopping for groceries, or in your local high street stores if the packaging displays the FSC/PEFC label, you can be confident that any trees used to make it were harvested and replaced, or allowed to regenerate naturally without harm to people, wildlife, or the environment. The FSC/PEFC label also carries a Chain of Custody code. This enables the product to be tracked from the forest to the shops – every link between the forest and your shopping basket is certified, making it easy to identify what is FSC/PEFC certified and what isn’t; if it doesn’t carry the label then it isn’t certified!
Common FSC/PEFC Certified Paper Products
Next time you’re buying a paper-based product or something which has been packaged in paper packaging, look out for the logos on these products:
- Paper– Whether it’s A4 paper for your printer or note paper, there are plenty of FSC/PEFC-certified options available from your local stationer or supermarket.
- Greeting cards– Check the back of the card for the FSC/PEFC label.
- Wrapping paper – More and more shops/brands are selling FSC/PEFC certified wrapping paper. It’s worth remembering, however, that if you’re hoping to recycle wrapping paper and greeting cards that have embellishments such as ribbons or glitter, these aren’t recyclable so will need to be removed before putting them in the recycling bin – or opt for plain and simple..
- Food packaging – With people choosing to move away from plastic, more food is being packaged into paperboard cartons; if it’s FSC/PEFC certified paperboard, the label will be printed somewhere on the packaging.
- Tissues and toilet roll – Of course softness is important, but so is the planet. Look out for the FSC/PEFC logo!
If you want to read more, you can find details of other FSC-certified products here.
You can also find details of other PEFC-certified products here.
Other Labels To Look Out For
As well as FSC/PEFC, there are other organisational bodies from around the world that promote and support sustainable forestry and the production of paper products that we might find for sale here in the UK. The most common ones to look out for are:
An environmental label in Germany that has been awarded to particularly environmentally friendly products and services since 1978.
Is recognised across Europe and internationally. The EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services that meet high environmental standards throughout their life cycle: from harvesting raw materials to production, distribution and disposal.
North American Sustainable Forestry Initiative operates in the U.S. and Canada and works across four pillars: standards, conservation, community, and education.
The Nordic Ecolabel or Nordic swan is the official sustainability ecolabel for products from the Nordic countries.
Its little green frog is a symbol of environmental, social, and economic sustainability and can be found on farm and forest products around the world.
When you next go shopping, keep an eye out for the above logos and be rest assured that if you see one, you know that the paper packaging/materials have come from sustainably managed forests.