Sappi secures sustainable forest certification in South Africa

The wood fiber product company Sappi has received the program to confirm the certification of forest certification (PEFC-) in South Africa (Safas) for sustainable African forest management system (Safas).

The Safas project was a successful collaboration between Sappi and a number of South African forest organizations.

The project started in 2015 with the establishment of Safas and included the development of a forest management standard, the development of certification requirements and in 2018 the confirmation of the standard and certification procedures.

The team also developed a certification tool to evaluate plantations based on a variety of factors, including the environmental, social and economic conditions specific to South Africa, Sappi points out.

“The final step in the process was to accredit certification bodies to conduct certification exams against the standard. This hurdle was more difficult than expected and was further delayed by the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and the end of international travel.” “

However, with the assistance of Safas, the Soil Association and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Sappi was able to go through a Level 1 certification audit that was carried out remotely by the Soil Association during the June 2020 lockdown.

A level 2 exam in October was conducted by local SABS examiners while it was broadcast live to the UK, where the Soil Association watched the proceedings and the UK Assurance Scheme (UKAS) witnessed the exam.

Although this innovative process was challenging, it proved successful and resulted in the Soil Association being the first certification body to be accredited for Safas audits and Sappi Forests being the first organization in South Africa to receive the Safas PEFC Forest Management certification.

“Although Sappi gives its customers the assurance that its wood fibers come from well-known and responsibly managed forests, also through its long-standing certification with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), PEFC certification offers consumers an additional important global certification standard for their assurance about the responsible origin of the wood used.

“Chain of Custody (CoC) certification, which tracks forest-based products from sustainable sources to the end product, is also important. This is ensured by an independent review of the CoC procedures, which closely monitor every step of the supply chain.

“Sappi Southern Africa has started the process of obtaining PEFC CoC certification for its manufacturing facilities in order to align it with Sappi’s European and North American operations.”

“Sappi’s goal is to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources for the benefit of people, communities and the planet. Credible, internationally recognized and robust forest certification systems such as PEFC and FSC are fundamental to Sappi’s commitment to sustainability, “said Sappi, CEO of Southern Africa Alex Thiel.

National forest certification schemes recommended by PEFC, such as the Safas recommended by PEFC, are highly relevant and valuable as they are locally developed and owned and respect the operational and cultural conditions of the country. This is important as it ensures that the benefits of certification are available to all forest owners, with a focus on smallholders, “said the CEO and Secretary General of PEFC International Ben Gunneberg Remarks.

“This certification marks a milestone in Africa at a time when climate-friendly solutions are required to provide all forest owners with attainable certification for sustainable forest management,” he adds.

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