South Africa has become the latest country to achieve PEFC endorsement of its national forest certification system, which is great news for the country’s many small-forest owners. “We are excited and energised to receive PEFC endorsement of our national system,” said Craig Norris, chairman of the South African Forestry Assurance Scheme (SAFAS).

“We have been working for five years to find solutions that will make forest certification accessible to the many smaller scale forestry operations within our country.”

While there are alternative forest certification systems in South Africa, large organisations own or manage most of the certified area. This led to a growing concern that small- and family-forest owners were being left behind.

“The complexity and cost of the certification options that previously existed prevented many smaller operations from achieving certification, so there was an urgent need to develop a standard that is more relevant to our plantation forestry.”

“We believe that our newly endorsed national SAFAS standard will allow us to achieve this objective, without compromising on good forestry practice,” Norris highlighted.

SAFAS, established to develop and manage the national forest certification system of South Africa, joined the PEFC alliance in 2017. It becomes the second national system in Africa to achieve PEFC endorsement, following Gabon.

“Looking forward, two organisations in South Africa have already had plantations assessed against the SAFAS standard and a third has applied to be assessed later this month,” explained Norris.

“We have received positive feedback on the relevance of the standard to plantation forestry operations, and we hope to be celebrating our first PEFC-certified forest area in the near future.” – PEFC