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Forest certification: a small step towards sustainability

日期: 2018-03-07
浏览次数: 40
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Release Date: 2018-03-07
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So how does Australia stack up?

There are continual debates about how sustainable managed natural forestry systems are in Australia. These have particularly been raised by some groups in recent times in Victoria.


Managed forestry, completely different to plantations, has been the staple method of forest systems operating in regions such as Scandinavia for the past 100 years at least. Not only has the forest industry in Scandinavia grown to become the region's dominant industry sector but forest cover has increased year on year.


For example, Sweden has a land mass of 44 million hectares, and it has 23 million hectares of forest cover, which includes 22 million hectares of production forest. The Swedes appear to have managed to achieve a nation that is green and environmentally responsible, yet at the same time the vast majority of its forest cover is used for production. Both FSC and PEFC operate in Sweden with almost the entire country covered under either one or often both schemes.


Does certification work for developing nations?

Generally the forestry certifications schemes are used between government and business as a mechanism to ensure that wood products are being grown, harvested, processed and sold sustainably. The average person in the community is, to date, reluctant to pay for additional certifications that prove the environmental characteristics of a product.


This poses an issue for the new regions coming into the international wood trade. The voluntary certifications such as FSC and PEFC are costly. Poor countries in the developing world find it difficult to afford certifications. Suppliers from the established nations have a different scale of economy and are therefore not faced with the same cost problems in getting certifications.


This point has been raised by scholars exploring certifications. It adds to the proposition that certifications can act as a trade barrier against developing nations.


Further to this point is that FSC do not readily certify forests that have been planted after 1994. The fact that the developing nations only started their timber industry in the mid to late 1990s also supports the proposition that certifications can act as a trade barrier.


Frederick List and Ha-joon Chang both have made the point that the developed nations have effectively “kicked away the ladder”, taking away the opportunities for poor countries to achieve the same level of development as the rich western nations.


Certification replaced by law

Forestry certifications may be questioned in the future, or their importance may reduce over time with the introduction of international laws on the export and import of illegal wood products. Less than 10% of the world's total forest area is covered by certifications. Addressing the legality of the international wood trade may be the most appropriate method of dealing with forestry concerns.


Deforestation is a major problem; however, the reality is that land is cleared for a number of pressing reasons. Economic development for plantations and palm oil obviously receive a great deal of media coverage. But the amount of forest land in the developing world each year cleared for food crops is significant and fills a legitimate need in that region with a high populations growth rates.


The complexity of the forestry issue is only partially addressed with international forestry certifications.



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