An exhibition promoting forest certification by the Forestry Bureau was held at the Huahan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914) in Taipei at the weekend, teaching the public about the internationally recognized certification mechanisms and how consumers can support a sustainable environment by purchasing certified wood products.
The activity promoted the concept that forests are recyclable and sustainable resources and that reasonable and effective management are key, rather than the total prohibition of logging.
Forest certification is a way to evaluate wood or paper products that come from certain forests, by providing a seal of approval to notify customers that the product was developed in accordance with strict environmental and social standards.
Organizers said forest certification could prevent timber trespass — the unapproved cutting of trees and removal of timber — because increasing consumer demand for certification can create a powerful incentive for retailers and manufacturers to seek out good wood suppliers.
During a speech on the current conditions of forest certification in Taiwan, Taiwan Forest Certification Development Association director Chiou Chyi-rong (邱祈榮) said two widely recognized certification programs are overseen by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Program for the -Endorsement of Forest Certification.
Both systems emphasize cutting from planted forests, maintaining biodiversity, protecting rare species that inhabit forest areas, limiting the types of pesticides and chemicals used in forests and protecting the rights of Aborigines.
Chiou said there are also two types of certification — Forest Management for forest managers, which proves the forest is being managed in a sustainable way, and Chain of Custody for wood or paper product manufacturers, which proves that the manufacturing process is being monitored and all wood comes from legal wood suppliers.
At present, 111 companies in Taiwan have gained certification from the council and seven from the certification program, but all of them are for the Chain of Custody method, Chiou said.
Taiwan does not have its own forest certification standards yet, but the association established in March is working with wood suppliers and the Forestry Bureau to set up a mechanism, Chiou added.
In addition, he said the forestry industry in Taiwan is about 99 percent reliant on imported wood, but if a thorough evaluation of the planted forests in Taiwan was done by the government, with the forest certification mechanisms set up, the self-sufficiency rate of wood and paper resources could increase to about 25 percent.