PULP and paper multi-national Sappi has announced that it has achieved the first Sustainable African Forest Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) certification to get the nod in South Africa from the influential Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Sappi Southern Africa Chief Executive Officer Alex Thiel said the SAFAS project had been a successful collaboration between Sappi and a number of South African forestry organisations who saw the need to develop a local certification standard with international recognition. It had been achieved in despite the unforeseen obstacles created by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
“Credible, internationally recognised, robust forest certification systems like PEFC and FSC are fundamental to Sappi’s commitment to sustainability,” Thiel said.
He added that although Sappi provides customers the assurance that its woodfibre originates from known and responsibly managed forests, including through its longstanding certification with the Forest Stewardship Council, the PEFC certification provides an additional important global certification standard in its assurance to consumers about the responsible origin of the wood we use.
Importantly, it also allows for chain of custody (CoC) certification, which tracks forest-based products from sustainable sources to the final product. Sappi Southern Africa has now commenced the process to achieve PEFC CoC certification for its manufacturing sites, to bring it in line with Sappi’s European and North American operations.
PEFC International CEO and Secretary General Ben Gunneberg described the certification as, “a landmark in Africa, at a time when climate smart solutions are needed to enable achievable sustainable forest management certification for all forest owners”.
Rob Shaw, Technical Manager of Soil Association Certification said,” We are proud to be the first certification body to achieve this PEFC Forest Management (FM) accreditation in South Africa. Working with Sappi, SABS, SAFAS and UKAS to achieve this was a truly collaborative effort, especially under the current circumstances, and is a milestone for sustainable forestry certification in the country”.
Dr David Everard, Divisional Environmental Manager for Sappi Forests said the process, “incorporates cutting-edge, innovative and effective approaches to also make forest certification more accessible to South Africa’s small landowners. This has great promise to ensure that certification not only delivers social and environmental values, but also supports socio-economic and development priorities”.