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Irish Forests Owners to Benefit from Accredited PEFC Certification

Jan 06 2014

NSAIThe National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), Ireland’s official standards body, now counts the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) in its portfolio of standards, following official accreditation by the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) last month.

This is a significant development for forest certification in Ireland as it enables forest owners for the first time to apply for PEFC Sustainable Forest Management certification.

As the only global forest certification system to strictly separate its activities in standards development from certification and accreditation, PEFC requires third-party, certification bodies to independently verify that forests are managed in compliance with PEFC’s Sustainability Benchmarks. Certification bodies, in turn, must be accredited by a national accreditation body such as INAB.

“We welcome the news that NSAI has been awarded PEFC Forest Management accreditation by the INAB,” said William Merivale, National Secretary of PEFC Ireland. “This follows the equally welcome news last September of NSAI’s accreditation for PEFC Chain of Custody certification, which NSAI is already actively implementing.

“Now, for the first time, Ireland has an accredited certification body deemed competent to conduct PEFC forest management certification audits of forest owners and their managers – both State and private. This comes at a time when especially private forest owners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to certify their sustainable forest management practices in order to continue to access those vital markets which demand certified timber and wood based products.”

The demand for certification of wood products is expected to increase in Ireland as a result of the Irish Government’s Green Public Procurement Programme. In line with EU directives, the public sector must take steps to ensure that a minimum 50% of all EU tendering procedures be green, so materials such as timber, wood and wood based products must be purchased from sustainable sources, such as PEFC certified products.

“The forestry market is getting more competitive and PEFC certification will allow Irish timber growers access to tender, trade and operate effectively in global markets,” said Fergal O’Byrne, Head of Business Excellence, NSAI Certification. “This standard consolidates NSAI’s position as a global provider of a broad variety of certification services and demonstrates Ireland’s concern for the environment and sustainable forestry. Adding forest management to the already accredited quality, health & safety, environmental, food and energy management systems standards, ensures that Irish companies can have a certified presence and operate efficiently anywhere in the world.”

NSAI’s PEFC certification provides cost-effective options to smallholders and forest owners associations through group certification, which is especially relevant for the almost 20,000 private forest owners in Ireland, many of whom are farmers.

“PEFC is the world’s largest forest certification system, and the only one that strictly separates standard-setting, certification and accreditation, ensuring complete independence and impartiality.  This strict separation comes at a price – it is not an easy task to meet PEFC International’s exacting standards, and PEFC Ireland applauds all at NSAI on this very important development for the Irish forestry industry,” concluded Mr. Merivale.

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