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Forest Stewardship Council International calling for submissions on International Generic Indicators

Over the last few years Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been undertaking significant reviews of many of its policies.

Major steps in this process were a review of the 10 Principles and Criteria (P & C) that effectively lay out the key areas against which forest management will be judged as to whether it meets the goals and objectives of "good forest management". This process was completed following substantive multi-chamber and member consultation, resulting in a revised set of P & C that, in general, appeared to be an improvement and more capable of practical application and relevance to forest management, including the New Zealand plantation industry.

Before the P & C can become operative however, there was required a process to develop a whole suite of "Indicators" that would provide clear guidance to "Certifying Bodies", FSC members, users and the public in general as to what specific steps would be required to evidence appropriate performance to the FSC P & C. Development of a set of International Generic Indicators (IGI) has been in process for many months. FSC is now calling for submissions on those indicators. The indicators can be viewed on the FSC website – http://igi.fsc.org/background.5.htm.

Ultimately, once a set of indicators has been formally adopted, all FSC forests will be benchmarked against these. In countries where there has been no tailoring of international standards to local conditions, the IGI will have to be applied. In countries where localised standards have been developed, these will have to be aligned with the IGI.

In the meantime submissions to this process are very important. While many of the proposed indicators are not unexpected, nor fundamentally difficult or different from the general thrust of the existing processes, there are some that look problematic. In most cases the problems seem to have arisen because the perceived reference framework for the indicators appears to be situations typified by massive (hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest), vertically integrated, single-corporate owners/operators, operating in natural forests, on tribal lands in locations where legal and democratic institutions are weak.

Of course little of this has much relevance to forest plantations set in a mixed use productive land matrix (horticulture, pastoral agriculture, forestry), in a diverse and mixed economy, with open democratic processes and a strong legislative framework (e.g. New Zealand).

PF Olsen will continue to work with others in the NZ plantation forest industry and also with a number of Pacific Rim entities, to find and propose (modified or new) indicators appropriate to our forest environment. This is particularly important for the Group Scheme where members' forests are often relatively small.

Special reserve protected within an FSC forest – Rotorua District