Markets working to support sustainable development

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

The PEFC is a non-profit, non-governmental programme to promote sustainable forestry. Its certification scheme covers both production and trade standards. 

Production – PEFC Sustainable Forestry Management Certification

  • Biodiversity of ecosystems is maintained or enhanced
  • The range of ecosystems provided by forests are sustained
  • Chemicals are substituted by natural alternatives of their use is minimized
  • Workers’ rights and welfare are protected
  • Local employment is encouraged
  • Indigenous peoples rights’ are respected
  • Operations are undertaken within the legal framework and following best practices

Chain of Custody Certification

  • Avoidance of wood from controversial sources (defined as contravening local, national or international legislation).
  • Use of two mechanisms for tracing origins of forest-based products, tailored to the situation and needs of the organisation involved: the percentage based method or the physical separation method.
Market coverage: 

Figures from Janurary 2014 show a total forest area of 251 million hectares is under PEFC certification, representing around 750,000 individual owners. Of this, North America accounts for around 60 per cent of the total area, while Europe accounts for 30 per cent. Meanwhile, there has also been efforts in the last 2 years to increase the area of certified forest in Asia (including an international conference that held in November 2013) - this has increased the area in Asia to over 4.6m hectares. There is, however, currently still not any certified forests in Africa and only 1 per cent of the PEFC certified area is in Central and South America.

Worldwide there are 15,761 companies with PEFC chain of custody certification.

Background information: 

The routes of the certifications scheme can be found in the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio and was established in 1999 by 11 countries. Now, it is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and includes 32 national certification schemes as well as 15 international stakeholders. As such, PEFC is a an umbrella organisation that endorses national forest certfications schemes and it is the now the largest of all the world's forest certfication schemes.

Funding source: 

Around 99 percent comes from membership fees and 1 per cent is from donations makes an annual budget of 2.9 million Swiss francs (2011).

Notable information: 

In 2012, PEFC worked with Quantis, a leading Life Cycle Analysis consultancy, to assess the contribution of using certified wood to the environmental impact of their products. According to the findings from the pilot, using certified wood enables a 15x reduction in climate footprint, an 8.6x reduction in human health impacts and a 3x reduction in ecosystem quality impacts compared to the use of non-certified wood.