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A new body aiming to develop a national forest certification system and formulate standards was set up today to promote "responsible" trade in forestry sector for better management of forest resources. The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) would have representation from various stakeholders including the government and industry, and is expected to formulate certification standards within a year. "It is the diversity and differences that NCCF, as the certifying body, shall take into consideration while developing our own standards.
The forest management standards will be developed in a manner that it reflects the plurality of our forests and the link that they have with the people. "Though India-specific, the national forest certification system and standards shall align with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification's globally-recognised sustainability benchmarks," said NCCF Chairman K K Singh. Singh was speaking at an international conference on 'Forest Certification - Positioning India', organised by NCCF in association with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) here. NCCF officials said the idea behind this was that there should be "responsible" forestry practice and it should be socially equitable, economically viable and environment friendly. Noting that forest resources have come under strain primarily because of commercial use of wood and deforestation due to changes in land use, they said two main approaches that have so far been adopted are 'top-down' approach wherein the government formulates and implements policies and the 'bottom- up' approach which is more of a participatory approach to protect forests. However, "ineffectiveness" and failures of both these approaches have led to a third approach - forest certification - which introduces policy changes through commercial power rather than central or local power and uses market acceptance rather than regulatory compliance as an enforcement mechanism, the officials said. "We strongly believe that PEFC-endorsed Indian national forest certification system will have a positive impact on forest management far beyond India, given the country's strategic position in international markets," said Sarah Price, Head of Projects and Development of PEFC-International.