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Sostenibilidad: Certification is no ‘silver bullet’ to stop deforestation

Sostenibilidad: Certification is no ‘silver bullet’ to stop deforestation
Julio 14, 2017

Autor/Fuente: eco-business.com/ 👤Periodista: María Luisa Ayala 🕔14.Jul 2017

 

After giving a talk expounding the benefits of sustainability certification in Singapore last week, Ben Gunneberg, chief executive officer of the world’s largest forest certification body, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), was asked a particularly awkward question.

How can PEFC justify certifying products made by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), when these two companies have been blamed for clearing vast areas of Indonesian rainforest? Local communities and some of the richest biodiversity on earth depend on this land, and clearing it not only destroys lives and habitats, but also contributes to the haze pollution that suffocates Singapore and its Southeast Asian neighbours almost every dry season.

In a three-minute response, during which time an area of forest the size of 150 football fields was lost to chainsaws and bulldozers around the world, Gunneberg conceded that certification is not a “silver bullet” to solve the many problems facing forests, referred to as “the lungs of the planet” in a promotional videoplayed before his talk.

It is, he said, just a tool that can be used to get governments and businesses on the right track towards sustainable forest management, encourage best practices, and help forest product users to “leapfrog” the tarnished image the sector has suffered over the years.

“Why did we certify them [APP and APRIL]? Because they met the requirements of PEFC,” he told the 50-strong audience at a lunchtime talk on PEFC certification, organised by Eco-Business on Thursday.

In contrast, neither APP or APRIL are certified by PEFC’s big rival, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which itself has come in from criticism from environmental groups for certification standards that do not go far enough to protect natural forests and local communities.

Though similar, PEFC is not a standards agency like FSC, which sets out principles of responsible forest management for companies and governments to follow. PEFC is a mutual recognition scheme, focusing not only on the ethical aspects of sustainable forest management, but also on the supply chain.

For a business to be PEFC certified, and for its products to carry its ‘green trees’ logo, they must be regularly audited by independent third parties to ensure that their production is not linked to the destruction of ecologically important forests or the violation of the rights of local communities that depend on the land.

Acknowledging that APP is working towards reassociation with FSC, a process that was made public last month, Gunneberg commented: “Will that stop another haze from happening? It definitely deals with the issue of fire fighting within the plantations, but the communities around those plantations have got to be helped.

Gunneberg pointed out that both APRIL and its larger rival APP had put in place hitherto successful programmes to combat the culture of land burning in Indonesia over the last few years, by engaging with the local communities and smallholder farmers who are most often blamed for burning forests. Both companies have also pledged to stop clearing natural forests, relying only on plantation timber to feed their pulp and paper mills.

“I stand by the value of certification,” Gunneberg said. “It gets us to a place where we have a better understanding of the issues. It’s not just a question of good or bad.”

Sugerimos: http://www.america-retail.com/sostenibilidad/sostenibilidad-en-buenos-aires-los-hogares-desperdician-84-kg-de-alimentos/

He suggested that the response to the haze from some Singapore entities had been too severe, saying it had been “too simple” for retailers NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket to remove APP brands from their shelves after it emerged that many of the fires were burning on APP’s concessions. These brands had shown little understanding of the issues behind the haze, said Gunneberg.

APP tissue brands including Paseo, Jolly and Zenses were removed from the shelves after a green label certification from Singapore Environmental Council was rescinded. The brands have not returned to the supermarket’s shelves since.

“It is sometimes too simple for people to pull products off the shelves, or for the government to do something without understanding the wider implications,” he said.

“We have to look at why this is happening, and why these forest fires occur. Why would a company want to burn its own forests?” added Gunneberg. APP’s own plantations lost 86,000 hectares to the peatland fires of 2015, which were the worst on record.

Noting that 80 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in and around forests, Gunneberg continued: “How are local communities supported when they are burning the land? They’re allowed to burn land, and fires get out of control.”

 

Fuente: eco-business.com/

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