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Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

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Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
FocusSustainable forestry
Area served
Key people
Michael Berger

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification. As of 2006, it was considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners in Europe.[1]

Its 48 endorsed national forest certification systems[2] represent more than 280 million hectares (690×10^6 acres) of certified forests.[3] This makes it the largest forest certification system in the world, covering about two-thirds of the globally certified forest area.[4] It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.


The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification was created in 1999 by a group of European forest owners and managers, led by the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), to meet the growing demand for certification, particularly in developing countries where the costs of certification could be prohibitive. The main goal of the organization, initially called the Pan-European Forest Certification Council, was to develop a certification system that was flexible and could be adapted to different forest types and management practices, while still meeting rigorous environmental, social, and economic standards.

In 2000, PEFC made its first endorsements of the national standards used by Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria. In 2004 it endorsed its first non-European national standards, used by Australia and Chile. As a consequence PEFC changed its name from Pan European Forest Certification to Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.

In 2005 the forest surface certified against PEFC standards reached 100 million hectares after joining of Canada. In 2007 the forest surface certified against PEFC standards reached 200 million hectares.

In 2009 the first tropical countries became members of PEFC: Gabon and Malaysia and as of 2015 40 national organizations were members of PEFC. In 2017 the forest surface certified against PEFC standards reached 300 million hectares and as of 2022 there were 55 national organizations members of PEFC.

PEFC's certification standards are based on the principles of sustainable forest management, which include protecting biodiversity, ensuring the rights and welfare of forest workers and local communities, and promoting responsible forest management practices.

Sustainable forest management criteria[edit]

Shield of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) at Marburg-Schröck, Germany.

PEFC International is the only international forest certification scheme that bases its criteria on internationally accepted intergovernmental conventions and guidelines,[5] thereby linking its sustainability benchmark criteria with existing governmental processes. This includes:[6]

PEFC requires adherence to all eight core ILO conventions, even in countries which have not ratified them.[6] These conventions are

National forest certification systems[edit]

PEFC only recognizes forests certified to standards that have been reviewed and endorsed by PEFC.[10]

National forest certification systems that wish to be recognized by are required to set standards keeping with the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 59:1994 Code of good practice[11] for standardization. National standards must be developed by so-called National Governing Bodies, and meet requirements for transparency, consultation and decision-making by consensus. These guidelines also outline processes for revising and amending standards, and provide those who utilise the standard with the security of future certainty.[12]


All PEFC-endorsed standards have been subjected to public review during their development. National forest certification systems wanting to obtain PEFC endorsement are subject to an independent assessment to ensure that it meets the PEFC requirements for the standards development process, public review and forest management requirements. The consultant's report is reviewed by an independent Panel of Experts and the PEFC Board, and if satisfactory, the new standard is approved by the PEFC members as a PEFC-endorsed standard.[10] To ensure the independence of the certification bodies, they are not accredited by PEFC itself, but by a national accreditation agency.

In line with its commitment to transparency, PEFC makes its entire documentation of national forest certification system, including the independent assessments, publicly available. Information about all issued certificates, including information about suspended, withdrawn and expired certificates, is publicly available on the PEFC website.[13]


Countries with PEFC endorsed national certification systems include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Viet Nam.[14]

Criticism and alternative certification schemes[edit]

Forest Stewardship Council is the main alternative forest certification system. Mutual recognition of FSC and PEFC certified material in the chain of custody has not yet happened. However, FSC and PEFC use the same forest management standard in countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway; Malaysia has submitted its timber certification scheme for PEFC endorsement that is largely based on FSC principles and criteria.[15]

Several environmental non-governmental organizations, such as The Wilderness Society,[16][17] Greenpeace[18][19][20][21] and FERN[22] have criticized the PEFC. Greenpeace does not believe alternatives to the FSC, including PEFC, can ensure responsible forest management.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Forest Products Annual Market Review, 2008-2009
  2. ^ [https://cdn.pefc.org/pefc.org/media/2022-08/7946f8ab-2f16-48c6-9b73-e5cd5e56d47d/89737fba-0954-5022-bdcd-029270ae5c4c.pdf
  3. ^ "PEFC Global Certification: Forest Management & Chain of Custody - Presentations & Speeches". Archived from the original on 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  4. ^ UNECE/FAO Forest Annual Market Review 2011-2012
  5. ^ ITTO Technical Series 29: Developing Forest Certification (May 2008)
  6. ^ a b Sustainable Forest Management (PEFC ST 1003:2010) Archived 2012-03-26 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Pan-European Criteria, Indicators and Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management
  8. ^ ATO/ITTO Principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable forest management of African natural tropical forests (ATO/ITTO) Archived 2007-11-12 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ ITTO guidelines on sustainable forest management Archived 2008-12-17 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Rotherham, Tony (2011). "Forest management certification around the world – Progress and problems" (PDF). The Forestry Chronicle. 87 (5): 603–611. doi:10.5558/tfc2011-067. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  11. ^ ISO - ISO/IEC Guide 59:1994 - Code of good practice for standardization
  12. ^ Forestry Certification-Sustainability Governance and Risk. ITS Global (2011) Archived 2013-06-19 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Documentation of PEFC-endorsed national forest certification systems". Archived from the original on 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  14. ^ "List of PEFC-endorsed national forest certification systems". Archived from the original on 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
  15. ^ Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Forest Management Certification - MC&I(2002) Archived 2010-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ 'PEFC-approved' - the unsustainable stamp of approval May 21, 2007
  17. ^ "Your guide to ethical copy paper" (PDF). Avoid the following brandings: FSC Mixed Sources ...PEFC (including AFS) – Poor governance, includes wood from badly managed forests, linked to world's worst forestry practices ... in Australia
  18. ^ "Weaker Certification Schemes". Greenpeace. Greenpeace. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016. Greenpeace International does not believe that other forest certification systems, such as PEFC have the ability to ensure responsible forest management. These systems lack robust requirements to protect social and ecological values.
  19. ^ "Greenpeace, RAN warn of forest certification greenwash". Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  20. ^ www.pefcwatch.org Archived 2007-05-04 at the Wayback Machine is a collaboration between the Finnish Nature League and Greenpeace
  21. ^ "Destruction: Certified". greenpeace.org. Greenpeace International. 10 March 2021.
  22. ^ Fern articles about PEFC

External links[edit]