New Delhi, January 15, 2018:
Network for Certification & Conservation of Forests (NCCF) in association with the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare; Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH); state forest departments; international organizations; forest based industry; civil society organizations; farmers groups; tribal groups and workers associations; and many more forest based stakeholders has developed and released India’s country specific and internationally benchmarked Forest Management Certification Standard. The occasion also marked the launch of the National Certification Scheme for Sustainable Forest Management. The scheme announced at the National Conference on Forest Certification organized by NCCF will bring a paradigm shift towards ensuring responsible utilisation of natural resources and trade of forest products.Lauding the efforts of NCCF Shri C.K. Mishra, Secretary, MoEF&CC said that India has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to the UNFCCC, wherein it is committed to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 Gt CO2 equivalent through enhancement of forest and tree cover by 2030 to achieve a target of 33% cover. A policy framework that encourages tree cover growth and improves density of forests is necessary to actualize carbon sequestration benefits to meet INDC. Forest Certification is an emerging market based non-regulatory conservation tool that promote sustainable forest management and addresses to the concerns for environmental protection as well as social and economic welfare. Mr Mishra desired that NCCF should partner with the Ministry in arriving at a well thought out policy and action plan to achieve the target of 33% forest and tree cover.”
Shri Siddhanta Das, DG, Forests & Special Secretary, MoEF&CC, highlighted that India has practiced scientific management of forests since 1864, built upon the principles of sustainability. Initially the forest management had primacy for timber extraction, but now there is paradigm shift to achieve sustainable ecosystems and sustained availability of ecosystem services and livelihoods of tribals and other forest dependent communities.
Mr. Vijai Sharma, IAS (Retd.), Chairman, NCCF, informed that “NCCF is well placed to take stock of our present knowledge and identify future work for sustaining our forests, preserving biodiversity and preventing desertification. Trees outside Forests including Agroforestry and Urban Forestry offer good potential to achieve the target of 33% forest and tree cover. All such efforts need to be built around strengthening partnerships amongst the forest based stakeholders and income growth of the most vulnerable, fulfilment of basic minimum needs and environmental protection. He also suggested that CAMPA funds may be extended to agroforestry projects also.
Mr. Sachin Raj Jain, Convener & Treasurer, NCCF, added, “NCCF is simultaneously developing the certification standards for the Trees outside Forests (ToF), Protected Areas and Wetlands (PAWs) and Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs). We are also planning to initiate the process for development of other sustainable standards for sustainable ecotourism and sustainable mining.”
According to Mr. Suneel Pandey, Secretary, NCCF, “State Forest Development Corporations and State Forest Departments have an immense scope of entering the certified products market and get a premium value for their produce.
The need for it: Forest resource has been under strain primarily because of two reasons – commercial use of wood and deforestation due to changes in land use. Till now, two approaches were adopted – ‘top-down’ approach wherein government formulates and implements policies; and the ‘bottom-up’ approach which is more of a participatory approach to protect forests. However, ineffectiveness of both have led to a third approach – forest certification. It introduces policy changes through commercial power, rather than central or local power, and uses market acceptance rather than regulatory compliance as an enforcement mechanism. Besides this, regulations from developed countries have put a ban on commerce of illegally sourced plants and their products including timber and paper. Majorly, this has fuelled the need for legalising of sourcing through forest certification. The components of forest certification essentially complement various elements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to which India is a party, re-emphasised the significance of sustainable forest management through the REDD+.
Ministries, industry bodies & companies who participated in developing the standard: A multi-stakeholder Standard Development Group (SDG) was formed as per UN Agenda 21, under chairmanship of Mr. Avani Kumar Verma, an eminent professional forester, having representation from ministries; State Forest Departments and State Forest Development Corporations; distinguished professional foresters; Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE); Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM); Quality Council of India; Green Initiatives Certification & Inspection Agency (GICIA); International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); World Wildlife Fund (WWF); Confederation of Indian Industries (CII); CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development; Indian Paper Manufacturers’ Association (IPMA); Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH); Chemical and Allied Export Promotion Council of India (CAPEXIL); Centre for Indian Bamboo Research & Technology (CIBART); International Network for Bamboo & Rattan (INBAR); The Energy & Resource Institute (TERI);) and many more.