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    Certification Concepts Defined


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2001

    - Sustainable forest management is "the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems". (Definition of the Helsinki Declaration of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, 1993.)

    - Certification of forest management is an established, recognized verification procedure that results in a certificate on the quality of forest management. Predetermined criteria are based on an independent (third-party) assessment. Verification takes place through an audit, which can be external or internal. External audit is carried out by an independent third party.

    - Environmental label or declaration-claim indicates the environmental aspects of a product or service. This may take the form of a statement, symbol or graphic; product or packaging label; product literature or technical bulletin; or advertising.

    - Labelling of forest products results in a claim which may be used on-product, referring to the quality of the forest or forest management from which the raw material (wood, fibre) originates. In this case labelling is based on two things: certification of forest management; and verification of the chain of custody. Information on certification can also be communicated off-product, i.e. in various promotional materials and communication media not attached to the product on sale.

    - The chain of custody refers to changes of custodianship of forest products during transportation, processing and distribution. When the chain of custody is verified, the origin of forest products is established.

    - A forest management certificate or label refers to one characteristic of the processing and production methods (PPM) - the quality of forest management. This is different from environmental certificates or labels that refer to the impact of products during their entire life cycle.