Public consultation on PEFC ST 1003:201X, Enquiry Draft, Sustainable Forest Management – Requirements

PEFC ST 1003:201X, Enquiry Draft, Sustainable Forest Management – Requirements


The PEFC Council (the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) is a worldwide organisation promoting sustainable forest management through forest certification and labelling of forest-based products. Products with a PEFC claim and/or label offer assurances that the raw materials that have been used in their manufacture originate from sustainably managed forests and trees outside forests (TOF) areas.

The PEFC Council endorses national and regional forest certification schemes that comply with PEFC Council requirements. Schemes are subject to regular evaluations.

This document has been developed using an open, transparent, consultative and consensus-based process and including a broad range of stakeholders.

This document cancels and replaces the 2010 version of PEFC’s Sustainable Forest Management requirements (PEFC ST 1003:2010).

The transition date is [dd mm yyyy]. After the transition date PEFC requires all PEFC endorsed schemes to meet the requirements outlined in this standard.


The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, is a leading global alliance of regional and national forest certification systems. As an independent international non-profit, non-governmental organisation, we are dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification.

PEFC works throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote responsible practice in the forest and to ensure that wood and non-wood forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards.

At the core of our work is forest certification. With over 300 million hectares[1] of certified forest, PEFC is the largest forest certification system in the world. We are also the certification system of choice for smallholders. PEFC was founded by small- and family forest owners based on intergovernmental processes (Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forest in Europe, The Montreal Process, The ATO/ITTO process). Ensuring small holder access to forest certification has always been at the heart of our work. Owners of relatively smaller estates faces specific challenges and our certification system provides solutions to tackle these challenges.

It is PEFC's fundamental belief that forest certification needs to be local; this is why we choose to work with national organisations to advance responsible forestry. As an umbrella organisation, PEFC endorses regional or national forest certification systems that have been developed through multi-stakeholder processes and tailored to local priorities and conditions.

While regional and national systems are developed locally, they need to be recognized internationally. To ensure consistency with international requirements, all regional and national forest certification systems undergo rigorous third-party assessment against PEFC's unique Sustainability Benchmarks before they can achieve endorsement.


[1] As of March 2017

PEFC Sustainability Benchmarks - Setting global standards

The development of international standards and guides is at the core of what PEFC does. We call these the PEFC Sustainability Benchmarks. These standards form the basis for nearly all PEFC's other activities; from providing certification solutions to assessing compliance with standard requirements to endorsing national systems.

Every standard goes through a detailed and rigorous development process and is revised regularly. When developing or revising a standard, we make sure that stakeholders are invited to participate. This means that there is a representation of diverse stakeholders, so no one interest can dominate, and that the process is consensus-driven, open and transparent.

PEFC offers a wide variety of opportunities and channels to ensure that everyone interested can be involved and stay up-to-date. These may include:

  • Participation in a standard setting working group. Working groups are the most powerful institution in the process as participants are responsible for the core of the revision work;
  • Expert Forums, open to the public, to inform the working group;
  • Regular updates, published on the PEFC website and disseminated through our newsletter and social media channels, keep everyone informed;
  • Stakeholder conferences and dialogues may offer further opportunities to input into the process;
  • The enquiry draft is subject to a 60 day global public consultation.

As a membership association, all technical documentation requires formal approval by the PEFC Board of Directors and the association members, the General Assembly. Neither of these two bodies has the ability to modify the final draft submitted by the working group; they can only approve or reject it as a whole. Approved PEFC standards are published on the PEFC website together with the standard development report, which provides comprehensive information about the development process.

Regional and national forest certification systems - Adapting standards to local conditions

Local adaption of global standards is accomplished through regional and national forest certification systems. A regional or national forest certification system outlines the rules, procedures and management criteria for carrying out forest certification at regional, national or sub-national level. Regional and national systems include a range of regional, national and sub-national standards, such as the requirements for sustainable forest management, group certification, standard setting and many more.

Through the regional and national systems, PEFC can ensure that the sustainable forest management requirements of each country are tailored to the specific forest ecosystems, the legal and administrative framework, the socio-cultural context and other relevant factors.

This also ensures that all stakeholders are represented in the process; that they participate in determining what sustainable forest management means in the context of their country and how it can best be implemented locally. Issues that are relevant at the regional, national or sub-national level, but not captured in PEFC's Sustainability Benchmarks, are also naturally incorporated into these standards. This is key to the success of PEFC, as it empowers those managing forests to do so in compliance with the standards that they themselves have participated in developing.

Just like standard setting processes at international level, regional, national or sub-national standards are developed through multi-stakeholder working groups with balanced representation, ideally as defined in Agenda 21.  The processes need to be consensus driven, open and transparent, with no single interest dominating – and provide ample opportunity for involvement.

PEFC's endorsement process - Ensuring alignment of regional, national and sub-national standards with PEFC's Sustainability Benchmarks

To ensure that our requirements are consistently applied at regional, national and sub-national level, all forest certification systems applying for PEFC endorsement go through a comprehensive and thorough independent assessment and quality assurance process. This process takes on average nine months to complete, and includes the following elements:

  • An independent assessment that evaluates compliance of the system with PEFC requirements and includes a global public consultation;
  • A quality assurance process;
  • After a system has successfully passed the assessment and quality assurance process, the PEFC General Assembly votes on its endorsement.

Documentation concerning all endorsed systems, including the full assessment report, is publicly available on the PEFC website.

Through this process, PEFC can ensure that the standards meet our globally accepted PEFC Sustainability Benchmarks. In practical terms, this means that wood- or non-wood forest products certified to a forest certification system are considered PEFC-certified anywhere in the world, and are eligible to carry our PEFC label.

Certification - Demonstrating compliance with standard requirements

Certification is the actual process of validating that individuals or organisations wishing to obtain PEFC forest management or Chain of Custody certification are in compliance with our requirements.

Credible certification requires certification decisions to be impartial, independent and competent. This means that standard setting, certification and accreditation must be completely separate in order to eliminate the risk of conflicts of interest and ensure the highest level of competency:

  • Standard setting, the process of defining certification requirements in collaboration with stakeholders, is undertaken by PEFC or regional and national forest certification systems.
  • Certification, the process of checking whether a forest owner or company fulfils the certification requirements, is carried out by a certification body.
  • Accreditation, the process of assessing the competence of the certification body, is carried out by an accreditation body with membership within the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) or an IAF regional accreditation group.

Entities wishing to obtain PEFC certification are required to demonstrate their conformity with PEFC endorsed standards.. If compliance is demonstrated, the certification body issues a certificate valid for three to five years, after which operators must become re-certified.

Additional checks are done through annual surveillance audits to proactively verify on-going compliance with our requirements. Only if practices and operations continually meet the requirements of PEFC endorsed standards do entities earn the right to make “PEFC-certified” claims and use the PEFC label.

PEFC is aware that, as with any programme or activity, there may be issues of non-conformity or non-compliance from time to time.

Complaints against certified entities are dealt with by the respective complaints and appeals procedures put in place by certification bodies. Issues that remain unresolved at this level should be raised with the respective complaints and appeals mechanisms of national accreditation bodies and thereafter - as a third level of appeal - with the IAF.

If a certified entity does not comply with PEFC’s requirements its certificate can be suspended or withdrawn. If the certification body, or indeed an accreditation body is judged to not have dealt with a complaint appropriately, it risks losing its license to operate.

1 Scope

This document constitutes PEFC International’s Benchmark for PEFC endorsed regional, national or sub-national  standards for the sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests, covering all their products and services. Through PEFC endorsed standards, which are developed in a balanced multi stakeholder process following PEFC International’s benchmark for Standard Setting, the requirements outlined in this document apply to owners and managers, as well as contractors and other operators operating in PEFC certified areas.

Interpretations for forest plantations are outlined in Appendix 1 to this document.

Interpretations for TOF are outlined in Appendix 2 to this document. All requirements within the standard referring to “forest” are also applicable to TOF unless otherwise indicated in Appendix 2.

2. Normative references

ILO No. 87, Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948

ILO No. 29, Forced Labour Convention, 1930

ILO No. 98, Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949

ILO No. 100, Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951

ILO No. 105, Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957

ILO No. 111, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958

ILO No. 138, Minimum Age Convention, 1973

ILO No. 169, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989

ILO No. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999

ISO/IEC 17021-1, Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems — Part 1: Requirements

United Nations, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 1998

PEFC ST 1001, Standard Setting – Requirements

PEFC ST 1002, Group Forest Management Certification – Requirements

PEFC GD 1007, Endorsement and Mutual Recognition of National Systems and their Revision

ISO Guide 2, Standardization and related activities — General vocabulary

3. Terms and definitions

3.1 Afforestation

Direct human-induced conversion of land that has not been forested for a defined period to forested land through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources (following the definition by United Nations 2002).

NOTE     The period is defined by national law or, if not available, by the standardizing body responsible for the regional, national or sub-national standard.

3.2 Forest plantation

Forest, established through planting or seeding mainly for production of wood or non-wood goods.

NOTE 1  Includes all stands of introduced species established for production of wood or non-wood goods.

NOTE 2 May include areas of native species characterised by few species, intensive land preparation (e.g. cultivation), straight tree lines and/or even-aged stands.

NOTE 3 Application of the definition requires consideration of national forestry terminology and legal requirements.

3.3 Forest

“Forest” is a minimum area of land of 0.05-1.0 hectares with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10-30 per cent with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2-5 metres at maturity in situ. A forest may consist either of closed forest formations where trees of various storeys and undergrowth cover a high proportion of the ground or open forest. Young natural stands and all plantations which have yet to reach a crown density of 10-30 per cent or tree height of 2-5 metres are included under forest, as are areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention such as harvesting or natural causes but which are expected to revert to forest (source: United Nations 2002).

NOTE     Each regional, national or subnational standard has to include the specific values for the criteria in the definition. If such specifications for a country are not yet available the standardizing body is responsible to set the values according to the national framewor

3.4 Forest Conversion

Direct human-induced change of forest to non-forest land or forest plantations

NOTE     Regeneration by planting or direct seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources, to the same dominant species as was harvested or other species that were present in the historical species mix is not considered a conversion.

3.5 Degraded forest

Land with long-term significant reduction of the overall potential to supply benefits from the forest, which includes carbon, wood, biodiversity and other goods and services (definition following FAO 2003).

3.6 Ecologically important forest areas

Forest areas

  1. containing protected, rare, sensitive or representative forest ecosystems;
  2. containing significant concentrations of endemic species and habitats of threatened species, as defined in recognised reference lists;
  3. containing endangered or protected genetic in situ resources;
  4. contributing to globally, regionally and nationally significant large landscapes with natural distribution and abundance of naturally occurring species.

3.7 Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling (source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

3.8 Fundamental ILO conventions

Eight conventions (ILO 29, 87, 98, 100, 105, 111, 138 and 182) identified by the ILO's Governing Body as "fundamental" in terms of principles and rights at work: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

3.9 Genetically modified trees

Trees in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination, taking into account applicable legislation providing a specific definition of genetically modified organisms.

NOTE 1  The following techniques are considered as genetic modification resulting in genetically modified trees (EU Directive 2001/18/EC):

(1) recombinant nucleic acid techniques involving the formation of new combinations of genetic material by the insertion of nucleic acid molecules produced by whatever means outside an organism, into any virus, bacterial plasmid or other vector system and their incorporation into a host organism in which they do not naturally occur, but in which they are capable of continued propagation;

(2) techniques involving the direct introduction into an organism of heritable material prepared outside the organism including micro-injection, macro-injection, and micro-encapsulation;

(3) cell fusion (including protoplast fusion) or hybridisation techniques where live cells with new combinations of heritable genetic material are formed through the fusion of two or more cells by means of methods that do not occur naturally.

NOTE 2  The following techniques are not considered as genetic modification resulting in genetically modified trees (EU Directive 2001/18/EC):

(1) in vitro fertilisation;

(2) natural processes such as: conjugation, transduction, transformation;

(3) polyploidy induction.

3.10   Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) means the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. (source: FAO 2018).

3.11 Landscape

A ‘landscape’ is a socio-ecological system that consists of a mosaic of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems, with a characteristic configuration of topography, vegetation, land use, and settlements that is influenced by the ecological, historical, economic and cultural processes and activities of the area (source: Scherr et al. 2013).

3.12 Management plan

Documented information specifying objectives, actions and control arrangements concerning the management of ecosystem resources and services for a set period of time.

NOTE     Depending on local conditions an equivalent documented information or tools can comply with this function.

3.13 Management system

Set of interrelated or interacting elements of an organisation to establish policies and objectives and processes to achieve those objectives.

3.14 Manager

Person who directs and controls an organisation.

NOTE     A manager may also be a person executing her or his traditional or customary tenure rights.

3.15 Non-forest ecosystem

All land not meeting the requirements of being a forest.

3.16 Non-wood forest products

Non-wood forest products consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests (FAO 2017).

3.17 Organisation

Person or group of people that has its own functions with responsibilities, authorities and relationships to achieve its objectives.

NOTE     An organisation applies for PEFC certification and is responsible for the compliance with PEFC sustainable forest management requirements and can be responsible for several forest management units.

3.18 Owner

Person, group of people or legal entity who has the legal ownership rights or executes its traditional or customary tenure rights for the area under management and certification.

3.19 Reforestation

Direct human-induced conversion of non-forested land to forested land through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources, on land that was forested but that has been converted to non-forested land (United Nations 2002).

3.20 Standardising body

Body that has recognised activities in standardisation.

NOTE     A standardising body for a forest management certification system/standard is a body which is responsible for the development and maintenance of standards for the forest certification system. The standardising body can be a PEFC national governing body or the standardising body can be separate from the governance of the forest certification scheme.

3.21 Stakeholder

A person, group, community or organisation with an interest in the subject of the standard.

3.22 Affected stakeholder

A stakeholder who might experience a direct change in living and/or working conditions caused by implementation of a standard, or a stakeholder who might be a user of a standard and therefore is subject to the requirements of the standard.

NOTE 1  Affected stakeholders include neighbouring communities, indigenous people, workers, etc. However, having an interest in the subject matter of the standard (e.g. NGOs, scientific community, civil society) is not equal to being affected.

NOTE 2  A stakeholder who might be a user of the standard is likely to become a certified entity, e.g. a forest owner in the case of a forest management standard, or a wood processing enterprise in the case of a chain of custody standard.

3.23 Trees outside Forests (TOF)

Trees growing outside areas of nationally designated forest land. Such areas will normally be classified as “agriculture” or “settlement”.