WWF-India propagates certification of forest produce

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Kochi, May 21 (ANI): The Indian chapter of World Wide Fund, WWF-India conducted a workshop clubbed with a consultative meeting on forest certification at Kochi.

The objective of this event was to propagate its mission of protecting India's natural resources as well as ensuring increased access for forest produce, particularly in the international market through certification.

Certification of forests would have to be considered in the context of restrictions imposed on the trade of timber and allied wood products within and outside the country.

This meeting was addressed by experts of WWF-India and also consultants from abroad.

Forest certification process is a mechanism for tracing forestland, monitoring area under plantation and labelling of forest produce such as timber, varieties of wood ensuring increased market access and value for money particularly in the international market for exporters.

"We establish standards for sustainable forest managements. These standards are complied with companies by organisations, by small farmers and small forest operations to ensure that they manage their forests for future generations.

This makes sure that they are not abusing their forests and are using it well through independent certifying organisations we ensure that they do this. If they can demonstrate that they can do this, then we issue them with a certificate.

This certificate will help them have access with the world market and increasingly to the consumer market," said Dr Alan Smith, Network Coordination Team Leader, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) International Centre, Bonn, Germany.

It was mentioned that the Indian conditions pose challenges vis-à-vis the application of certification procedures adopted elsewhere.

Representatives of WWF also noted that the Indian forest sector being disorganised, mass awareness had to be promoted among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in States such as Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

WWF has focussed on these three regions since large scale handling of handicraft items based on wood take place here.

"What we are trying to promote here is to say that if we can increase the amount of forests under certification, then the traders and the small and medium scale industries will actually get a benefit and the forests will also benefit. So it is a win-win situation where the economic growth is also possible and the sustainable forest growth is also manageable," said Dr Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF-India.

With an increasing demand for certified wood from the importing countries, the European Union in particular, the SMEs associated with forest produce will have to comply by the WWF guidelines and obtain forest certification.

Among the other organisations, which took part in the workshop, were the Global and Trade Network-India, representatives of the European Commission (SWITCH Asia Project) and officials of the Forest Department.

WWF, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) is one of the largest and most experienced independent conservation bodies, with almost five million supporters and a global network in more than 100 countries. (ANI)

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