The Indian Forest and Wood Certification scheme

The Indian Forest and Wood Certification scheme

News: Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has launched the Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS), offering voluntary third-party certification designed to promote sustainable forest management and agroforestry in the country.

About IFWCS:
• Objective - IFWCS aims to offer an alternative to private foreign certification agencies that have been operating in India. It seeks to ensure greater integrity, transparency, and credibility in certifying sustainable forest management and wood-based products.
• Components
o Certification for Sustainable Forest Management - Focuses on ensuring sustainable practices in forest management.
o Sustainable Management of Trees Outside Forests - Extends certification to cover sustainable management of trees in plantations.
o Chain of Custody - Guarantees traceability of forest products throughout the supply chain, from origin to market.
• Nodal agencies - The scheme will be overseen by the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Council, which will act as a multistakeholder advisory body, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal will act as the scheme operating agency and will be responsible for overall management of the Scheme and The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies under the Quality Council of India will accredit the certification bodies which will carry out independent audits and assess adherence of various entities on the standards prescribed under the scheme.

Who are the potential users of this certification?
• Forest management units, corporations, or wood-based industries.
• Tree growers, timber or NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Produce) traders.
• Saw millers, exporters, or importers of wood-based and NTFP-based products and other end-user industries.

Significance:
• The certification is expected to enhance trust and transparency in processes related to forest management and wood-based products.
• The IFWCS can provide market incentives to various entities that adhere to responsible forest management and agroforestry practices in their operations.
• It includes state forest departments, individual farmers, or Farmer Producer Organizations engaged in agroforestry and farm forestry, as well as other wood-based industries in the value chain.
• It provides an alternative to private foreign certification agencies that have been active in the Indian market for the past two decades.
• While currently government-driven, there is a potential for IFWCS to evolve into an independent entity. Similar to institutions like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) or the Quality Council of India (QCI). This evolution can further strengthen the autonomy and credibility of the certification scheme.
• The launch of IFWCS also aligns with global efforts to address deforestation concerns.

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