Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
Founded 1999
Focus Sustainable forestry
Origins Europe
Area served
Method Certification
Key people
Ben Gunneberg

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. It is considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners.[1]

Its 35 worldwide independent national forest certification systems[2] represent more than 240 million ha of certified forests, making it the largest forest certification system in the world, covering about two-thirds of the globally certified forest area.[3] It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.


PEFC was founded in 1999 in response to the specific requirements of small- and family forest owners as an international umbrella organization providing independent assessment, endorsement and recognition of national forest certification systems. It responded to the need for a mechanism enabling the independent development of national standards tailored to the political, economic, social, environmental and cultural realities of the respective countries, while at the same time ensuring compliance with internationally accepted requirements and global recognition.

After the successful endorsement of certification systems in Europe, Australia and Chile became the first non-European national standards to be endorsed by PEFC in 2004. PEFC’s certification criteria are based on globally recognized principles, guidelines and criteria developed by international and intergovernmental bodies with broad consensus from interested stakeholders.

Today, PEFC is the world’s largest forest certification system and the certification system of choice for small forest owners.[1]

Sustainable forest management criteria

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,[4] thereby linking its sustainability benchmark criteria with existing governmental processes. This includes:[5]

PEFC requires adherence to all eight core ILO conventions, even in countries which have not ratified them.[5] These conventions are

National forest certification systems

PEFC only recognize forests certified to standards that have been reviewed and endorsed by PEFC.[9]

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 for standardization. National standard 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.[10]


All PEFC-endorsed standards have been subjected to rigorous 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 many 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.[9]

In line with its commitment to transparency, PEFC makes its entire documentation of national forest certification system, including the independent assessments, publicly available.[11]


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, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.[12]

Criticism and alternative certification schemes

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 endorsement by PEFC that is largely based on FSC principles and criteria as the template.[13]

Several environmental non-governmental organisations, such as The Wilderness Society,[14] Greenpeace[15][16] and FERN[17] have criticised the PEFC. Greenpeace does not believe alternatives to the FSC, including PEFC, can ensure responsible forest management.

The PEFC was introduced as a direct alternative to the more environmentally created schemes in Germany.[18]

See also


  1. 1 2 Forest Products Annual Market Review, 2008-2009
  2. PEFC Members Schemes
  3. UNECE/FAO Forest Annual Market Review 2011-2012
  4. ITTO Technical Series 29: Developing Forest Certification (May 2008)
  5. 1 2 Sustainable Forest Management (PEFC ST 1003:2010)
  6. Pan-European Criteria, Indicators and Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management
  7. ATO/ITTO Principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable forest management of African natural tropical forests (ATO/ITTO)
  8. ITTO guidelines on sustainable forest management
  9. 1 2 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.
  10. Forestry Certification-Sustainability Governance and Risk. ITS Global (2011)
  11. Documentation of PEFC-endorsed national forest certification systems
  12. List of PEFC-endorsed national forest certification systems
  13. Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Forest Management Certification - MC&I(2002)
  14. 'PEFC-approved' - the unsustainable stamp of approval May 21, 2007
  15. "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.
  16. is a collaboration between the Finnish Nature League and Greenpeace
  17. Fern articles about PEFC
  18. Due to business risks, and particularly because of the growing influence of environmental associations, the forestry associations in Germany were initially against certification. As a result of growing pressure from the certification schemes initiated by environmental groups, the forestry associations came forth with their own certification scheme in 1999, the Pan European Forest Certification (German Forestry Council 1999). This procedure aims at maintaining forestry stakeholders' competency to define the ecological standards of forestry and keeping costs low while still prevailing on the markets despite competition with the certification schemes initiated by environmental groups.Pg 196 2005 FOREST POLICY ANALYSIS by MAX KROTT ISBN 1-4020-3485-7 (e-book)
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