Forests cover 31 per cent of Earth’s land surface and provide ecosystem services that affect air, water and soil quality.1 They are likewise crucial to the global economy, employing nearly 14 million people in more than 160 countries, and their value added accounts for 1 per cent of the world’s GDP (roughly US$700 billion) (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2011. In 2012, 2.2 billion cubic metres of forest products were produced, of which 19 per cent was exported, for a total value of US$233 billion (ForesSTAT, 2013)2 (see Table 10.1).
Forests play a critical role in maintaining local, regional and global ecosystems. Practices related to the use of forests have important short- and long-term impacts on biodiversity, habitat, and watershed and soil quality, not to mention economic development. As a result, sustainable forest management has been a preoccupation of governments around the world for many decades. More recently, the private sector, consumers and NGOs have sought the use of voluntary sustainability standards as key instruments for facilitating a broader market transformation toward the adoption of sustainable forest management practices.
We reviewed the most recent market trends for the two major international voluntary sustainability standards operational in the forestry sector, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), established in 1993, and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), established in 1999. Although these initiatives do not necessarily serve to address the fundamental causes of deforestation or forest degradation, they can be important tools, especially when combined with policy and legislative efforts, to demonstrate and increase demand for sustainable forest management. By mid-2013, these initiatives had together certified 9.1 per cent of global forested area and 23 per cent of managed forests (see Figure 10.1).3 Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland and Sweden are the countries with the most standard-compliant forests certified; Figure 10.2 breaks this down by standard.
1. [Ecosystem services provided by forests include the regulation of water regimes, maintenance of soil quality, limiting of erosion and modulation of climate. Forests are also key components of biodiversity health (FAO, 1997).]
2. [In this case, “forest products” is a grouping of the following categories: chemical wood pulp, chips and particles, dissolving wood pulp, hardboard, industrial roundwood wood in the rough, tropica, insulating board, medium-density fibreboard, mechanical wood pulp, newsprint, other fibre pulp, other industrial roundwood Trd, other paper and paperboard, particle board, plywood, printing and writing paper, pulpwood, round and split Trd, recovered paper, saw logs and veneer logs, sawn wood, semi-chemical wood pulp, veneer sheets, wood charcoal, wood fuel Trd and wood residues.]
3. [This takes into account a 13 per cent reduction in aggregate volume, in order to account for estimated double certification.]