PEFC International has unanimously approved the application of the China Forest Certification Council (CFCC) to join the world's largest forest certification system.
"The Chinese commitment to sustainable forest management and forest certification is to be welcomed," said Ben Gunneberg, PEFC Secretary General. "China is the country with the fastest growing forest area globally, and a dominant player in the global forest products market with a growing domestic timber demand and a competitive export-oriented industry. With the Chinese forest sector embracing forest certification, a major step forward towards mainstreaming sustainable forest management is being made."
China currently has the highest afforestation rate of any country or region in the world, increasing its forest cover from 12% twenty years ago to more than 20% by 2010. With more than 200 million hectares of forest, China is one of the most forested countries globally, and is continuing to implement policy measures to increase the quality and quantity of its forests. The total output of the forest sector is expected to reach 2.26 trillion Chinese Yuan by 2012 and employs close to 60 million people.
"Joining PEFC is an important milestone towards international recognition of the Chinese forest certification system," said Mr Wang Wei, Deputy Director General of the Center of Science and Technology Development, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China. "PEFC offers us an important forum to share experiences and knowledge, and may eventually assist us in accessing markets for wood products originating from certified forests."
More than 3.4 million hectares of forests in China are expected to become certified to CFCC in 2011, following an agreement between the Beijing Zhonglin Tianhe Forest Certification Center and the Yichun Forest Authority announced earlier this year.
By joining PEFC, CFCC has fulfilled an important prerequisite for applying for PEFC endorsement, a step that is expected in the near future.
"We have been promoting PEFC certification in China for the past four years through a dedicated Promotions Office, and are looking forward to working closely with CFCC towards international recognition," explained Mr. Gunneberg.