The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), a not-for-profit organization, has been successful in obtaining the endorsement of its forest certification scheme from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), a Geneva based leading international forest certification organization. India now holds a globally recognised certification scheme specifically developed for the Indian forests. The decision was taken by the PEFC Council in its General Assembly, through a postal ballot and approved the endorsement of the NCCF Forest Certification System as of 27th February 2019. Expressing satisfaction on this development, Mr Vijai Sharma, Chairman, NCCF remarked that “The endorsement of the scheme by PEFC is a landmark achievement for India as need for such a country specific and internationally benchmarked forest certification scheme has been felt since long in the country. This scheme will allow the forest managers in various states of India to further strengthen their Working Plan based management practices as per the global standards and multilateral requirements.”
NCCF’s is committed to developing globally aligned nation specific certification schemes and standards for enhancing sustainability, market and public access to goods and services from forest, trees outside forest including non-wood forest products and the protected areas, wetlands and other conservation landscapes in the country.
Later in 1993, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) with a mission to bring scientific knowledge to bear on major decisions affecting the world’s tropical forests and the dependent people was established with headquarters at Bogor, Indonesia. CIFOR arose out of growing concern that emerged from the Rio Earth Summit and other international dialogues about rapid deforestation and its associated social, economic and environmental impacts. CIFOR was established as the 16th research centre of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR is made up of public and private-sector organisations devoted to improving agriculture and natural resource use in ways that reduce hunger and poverty among people in developing countries without causing environmental damage. The two organisations, CIFOR and ICRAF, have been dealing with forestry and agroforestry research issues respectively and providing practical solutions to these two sister sciences.
Realising the importance of Forest certification, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, has called for buying products made from certified wood only for promoting sustainable forest management, under the ‘Green Good Deeds movement’
Expressing happiness on getting this well-deserved endorsement, Mr A.K. Srivastava, Executive Director (Honorary) remarked that “Forest certification has been accepted as an efficient tool for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) the world over. Given that forests of India serve important ecological, economic and social functions that also provide livelihood to over 275 million forest dependent people of this country, we should utilise certification for sustaining and enhancing these roles of forests”.
NCCF-SFM Certification standard was developed through a multi-stakeholder Standard Development Group, chaired by an eminent professional forester Mr Avani Kumar Varma and the Group was represented by distinguished forestry professionals, representatives from government, central ministries, institutions, Quality Council of India, State Forest Departments, Forest Corporations, global conservation organisations such as IUCN and WWF, industry bodies like the CII, Indian Papers Manufacturers Association, ITC Ltd., certification bodies and many more. The SFM certification scheme involves the international best practices in forestry, the key elements of existing models in India such as the Bhopal India Process of the IIFM, the National Working Plan Code 2014 and provisions of the National Forest Policy.
Mr. Sachin Raj Jain, Convener, NCCF has observed that, “forest based industries in India, particularly those for paper, boards, plywood, medium density fibre board, furniture and handicrafts etc, have been pushing for forest certification to enhance their market accessibility to western markets including European Union and USA. The new scheme will address the need of augmenting our forest management regimes and enhancing biodiversity conservation through the lens of forest certification and third party audit, monitoring and evaluation, with an endeavour to make the Indian wood and forest fibre-based industry competent globally by meeting their needs of certified products.”
“Post launch of the SFM certification standard, NCCF has been organising state level sensitisation workshops in collaboration with State Forest Departments and encouraging them to take up forest certification of few divisions on pilot basis. NCCF has also offered to provide technical assistance in this regard.”, said Dr AK Saxena, Deputy Director, NCCF. Till date workshops have been organised in 6 states of India viz Assam, Sikkim, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh; with many other planned in near future. Further, it is becoming an imperative for Indian forestry sector to tune itself to the growing sustainable forestry industry. It is also worth noting that recently notified
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules 2018 permit utilisation of the CAMPA funds for forest certification, development of certification standards and third-party monitoring