[Answered] What is the process of forest certification? Also, highlight its significance.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain process of forest certification. Also write its significance.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Forest certification, a global movement initiated in 1990s after Rio Earth Summit, is a market-based non-regulatory conservation tool designed to promote sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests by an independent third party. The council of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is supporting Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF’s) initiative to raise the profile of forest certification and develop the market for certified products in India. Currently, forests in only Uttar Pradesh are certified.

Process of forest certification:

  • In the United States, three major forest certification options are available for landowners. These certification programs include the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These certification programs differ in genesis, cost, philosophy, membership requirements, implementation, and recognition.
  • The certification process is usually different for the different certification types as well as certification programs.
  • The main steps in the forest certification process include:
    • selecting an appropriate certification system,
    • contacting the certifying organization,
    • gathering information and materials about forest and management activities,
    • undergoing a verification audit,
    • receiving the certification report with decision,
    • implementing required changes, and
    • scheduling follow-up audits at regular intervals.

Significance of forest certification:

  • 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, there is need for certification for sustaining and enhancing these roles of forests.
  • Forest certification assures the public that the benefits and functions of the forest, including clean air and water, wildlife, soil health etc., are maintained or protected during management and harvest.
  • Certification also ensures that management does not diminish the value of the future forest, nor create hardships for local communities.
  • Certification systems assure consumers that the product they are purchasing meets certain standards.
  • Forest certification refers to an independent, third-party evaluation of the management of a particular forest against a certain standard.
  • Forest certification has direct influences on forestland ownership, forest product marketing, and forest stewardship.
  • It provides greater access to markets, better environmental practices and better long-term management planning.

A simple, transparent, easy to adopt and internationally accepted indigenous system of certifications will take into account India’s national circumstances and will make available sustainably grown and managed forest products in the domestic market.

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