As this report shows, if it says 'PEFC', there's no guarantee that the product hasn't destroyed tropical rainforest in Indonesia, clearfelled Leadbeater's Possum habitat in Victoria, or hurt indigenous communities in South America.
The Wilderness Society, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and Victorian conservation group My Environment have released an international report on the failures of the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
The report, On the Ground 2011, is a joint NGO project that uses case studies from North America, Australian, Asia, Europe and South America. It shows that, behind the green-looking label, the PEFC standard signs-off on the destruction of tropical rainforests in Borneo and Indonesia and ignores indigenous rights in Chile and North America.
An Australian supplement to the report by My Environment also details serious problems with the certification of Australian Paper, maker of Reflex paper, under the local PEFC standard the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS). Reflex paper comes from high conservation value forests in Victoria's Central Highlands that provide core habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.
The PEFC and AFS stamps are displayed on a wide range of forest products sold in Australia, ranging from toilet paper to timber flooring.
Forest certification is supposed to provide assurance to consumers that the products they buy come from truly responsibly managed forests. When a customer sees a certification logo on a timber or paper product, they should be able to have confidence that the environment or communities haven't been damaged to get the product to the shelf.
But, as always, it's buyer beware. Check the logo carefully. As this report shows, if it says 'PEFC', there's no guarantee that the product hasn't destroyed tropical rainforest in Indonesia, clearfelled Leadbeater's Possum habitat in Victoria, or hurt indigenous communities in South America.
“Certification standards rely on credibility in the market place. It is increasingly clear that the PEFC and AFS logos cannot be trusted by consumers to deliver high environmental and social standards for forest products,” said Warrick Jordan, National Forest Campaigner for The Wilderness Society.
“PEFC and AFS must fundamentally change their approach if they are to become anything other than greenwash for bad forestry practices. If consumers are given the choice, they will choose highly credible certification standards such as the Forest Stewardship Council every time over untrustworthy schemes such as AFS.”
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