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PEFC Certification - What you need to know

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 13/04/2017

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Sustainability is a topic getting more and more important in all industries. In the food industry, the textile and the wood industry, the customers are expecting from the companies to be environmentally friendly and to protect the nature as much as the workers rights. But reaching these goals can sometimes be harder for small and non-industrial forests owners.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, also known as PEFC, is a certification made to promote sustainable forest management and tailored for these forest areas. We will today learn more about this certification and how it can be relevant for your company.


The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) was founded in 1999 by national organization from 11 european countries, representing the interests of small forest managers. The goal of the programme is to promote sustainable forest management with ecological, social and ethical standards. After being endorsed in 2004 by Australia and Chile and in 2005 by Canada, the PEFC became the largest forest certification system in the world. In 2010, the PEFC introduced social aspects in Chain of Custody certification.

Today, more than 300 million hectares of forest area are managed with PEFC around the world and 18.000 companies and organization achieved the PEFC Chain of Custody certification.

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PEFC - How it works

The PEFC works as an umbrella organization endorsing national forest certification systems specially tailored for small, non-industrial forests and family-owned forests. Using a bottom up approach, the PEFC endorses existing national standards to always keep a local approach adapted to the geographical situation of the forests. This local action is nevertheless coupled with an alignment with PEFC International’s Sustainability Benchmarks including biodiversity protection, GMOs and chemicals prohibition and workers’ rights protection.

Once the national standard has met this international benchmarks, it can apply for assessment by the PEFC to be internationally recognized as a sustainable certification.The process can generally take up to nine months and consists of the following steps:

  • Application for assessment
  • Public feedback about the system during 60 days
  • Evaluation of compliance of the national standard with the PEFC requirements
  • Review by a panel of experts
  • Evaluation by the Board of Directors which provides a recommendation to the General Assembly
  • Documentation and reports sent to the General Assembly (highest authority of the PEFC)
  • Vote by the General Assembly
  • Publication of the assessment

PEFC Chain of Custody certification

The Chain of Custody certification certifies that the wood used as raw material in final products comes from a PEFC forest area. The tracking used throughout the supply chain ensures the origin and the quality of the wood. The certification is carried out by accredited certification bodies meeting the requirements defined by ISO standards such as the ISO 9001 or the ISO 14001.

There are two mechanisms tracing the origin of forest-based products:

  • Percentage based method - for mixes of certified and non-certified raw material. The percentage of certified raw material must be known and communicated to the customers
  • Physical separation method -  requires a clear separation between certified and non-certified raw material during the production and trading process.

The Chain of Custody certification provides then information to the users about the origin of the wood used in their products and gives to the retailers and traders a positive image increasing their customer base and opening up new markets.

More information

Do you work with wood-based products and would like to request PEFC certifications to your suppliers along with other ISO standards and documents? Discover now the different modules available on ecratum platform to administer efficiently your documentation and be audit-ready at any time.

Discover now our SRM platform

Tags: Certifications