Growing interest in FSC® group certification

26 June 2018
Jaska-Poikonen

Joining the group certificate is free for forest owners. FSC® certification grants a premium for wood and improves biodiversity.

“One thousand forest owners have already joined the FSC group certification scheme. Group certification is suitable for all types of forest owners. These include major forest investment companies, corporations, municipalities, jointly owned forests and individual forest owners. FSC forest areas vary from thousands of hectares to a few dozen hectares in size, says Tuomas Kara, Senior Specialist, Environment at UPM Forest.

The end product market favours FSC-certified wood raw material, so there is real demand for it. This is why UPM offers group certification to its forest-owning customers.

“With FSC certification, forest owners ensure that there will be a guaranteed demand for their wood in every market situation. UPM always prioritises FSC wood in its wood trade and forest owners get a better price for their wood raw material.”

Environmental values and biodiversity

The internationally recognised FSC certification is a good way to tell that the wood comes from sustainable forests. “The forest is managed with sound professional expertise, taking social and environmental characteristics into account without forgetting the financial aspect,” Kara emphasises.

“We take care of forest management and harvesting in compliance with the certification requirements. Self-directed forest owners can still do forest management work themselves. We provide them with information on how to tend to seedlings according to the FSC criteria, for example. Our experts are also happy to provide guidance.”

Many forest owners want to do more for environmental values in their own forests. There are also environmental benefits that will manifest themselves in the future in the form of greater forest biodiversity and improved water quality.

Extensive group certification experience

The majority of UPM-owned forests were FSC certified in 2011. A year later, UPM was the first major operator in Finland to offer group certification to its customers. UPM’s jointly owned forests were among the first to join the certification scheme. The group already includes 1,000 private forest owners and 350,000 hectares of private forests, which makes it the biggest group in the country by far. When you include the 480,000 hectares of UPM’s own forests, it is also the largest FSC unit in Finland.

UPM has signed an international strategic partnership agreement with FSC. The goal is to make the certification even more suitable for non-industrial private forest owners and increase the supply of certified wood.

“We offer FSC Group Certification to our partnership customers. Group certification membership has been free of charge since the beginning of the year. We used to have a joining fee and an annual fee, but they were discontinued,” says Kara.

A forest management plan fee is the only fee that forest owners may have to pay when joining, if the estate does not have a valid forest management plan, as required by FSC. The new forest management plan will be tailored to meet the FSC criteria.

Free certification service

Group certification is an effortless way to join the FSC certification scheme. You can start by contacting your local Forest Customer Representative.

In the initial survey, he or she will go through the FSC requirements and the estate’s eligibility to join the group certificate. If improvements are needed, he or she will plan corrective measures. These measures will not prevent the contract signing.

“Our free service covers the entire joining process. Once it is completed, the forest owner’s forests will be FSC-certified for at least five years. Forest owners may renew the contract, but they can also leave the group before the end of the term with due reason,” says Tuomas Kara.

The service also includes maintaining the forest plan, FSC-related consulting and various auditing practices. In order to keep the forest plan up to date, all forest management operations will be added to the plan.

Photo: Jaska Poikonen

Päivi Mäki

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