Certification labels verify the sustainable origin of wood for customers

Finland is one of the most heavily-forested countries in the world, with forests making up over 70% of its area. Finns use wood and paper products every day, and trust they are being ecological in doing so. What they often do not think about are problems related to forests globally, such as illegal logging and deforestation, which is why Finnish consumers do not necessarily check the origin of a terrace board or wall panel they are buying.

Forests play a significant role in mitigating climate change: healthy diverse forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and act as significant carbon sinks. Threats to forest sustainability around the world, such as illegal logging and deforestation, accelerate climate change and reduce biodiversity. Meanwhile, climate change leads to more forest fires, forest damage caused by winds and storms, and tree diseases.“There are efforts to develop operating practices in order to prevent problems related to forest sustainability. The key to everything is the sustainable management and use of forests. What governments can do is to supervise compliance with laws and good corporate governance practises. One important way forest owners and companies can promote sustainability is using sustainable wood certificates,” says Auvo Kaivola, General Secretary of PEFC Finland.

Nearly all Finnish wood comes from a certified forest

Stores sell products from around the world, and it is not always easy for the customer to find out where the raw materials have originated from. For customers who want to make sustainable choices, the FSC and PEFC certification labels are strong indicators of the product’s origin and the sustainability of the whole supply chain.

“Wood certification increases transparency in the supply chain, puts companies on an equal footing, and gives customers the chance to ensure the sustainable origin of the product they are purchasing. A certification label indicates that all companies in the supply chain are committed to promoting sustainability,” Kaivola says.

Does it matter whether a Finnish customer chooses to buy domestic or foreign wood products?

“The level of certification varies between countries. Approximately half of the forests within the EU have been certified, while the percentage outside the EU is just 10%. The best situation can be found in the heavily-forested countries of Europe – Norway, Austria, Germany and Belgium – where 70-80% of forests are certified. In Finland, we can proudly note that we have the highest certification percentage in the world: 95% of the wood in Finland comes from certified forests,” says Kaivola.

Stores and customers can promote forest sustainability through the choices they make

Customers are increasingly interested in the origin and supply chain of products. This is also true for wood and paper products.

Kaivola is pleased about the progress: “Both understanding of and interest towards the origin of wood have grown in recent years among stores and consumers. They now discuss sustainable wood, while just 10 years ago people tended to think that the issue did not really concern Finland.”

As a large operator, K Group wants to bear its responsibility and help its customers make responsible and sustainable choices. According to K Group’s timber and paper policy, by the year 2025, 100% of the wood and paper products in Kesko's range will be of sustainable origin, either FSC or PEFC certified or recycled material.

The K-Rauta chain, which offers solutions for building, renovation and living, pays particular attention to the sustainability of wood.

“We at K-Rauta are committed to increasing the number of PEFC-certified products in our selections. We want to set an example in sustainability in the building and home improvement trade and encourage other operators to also increase the share of sustainably produced wood in their selections,” says Olli Pere, Director of the K-Rauta chain.

K-Rauta stores offer, for example, PEFC-certified construction timber, panels and terrace boards. PEFC certificates in K-Rauta’s selections cover spruce and pine timber and wood products manufactured from those. The selections also include other wood-based yard and garden products with a PEFC certificate.

With the PEFC Chain of Custody certification, companies manufacturing or using wood-based products can reliably assure that the forest-based material contained in a product originates from sustainably managed forests. Audited by independent third-parties, each link in the supply chain proves that the journey of the forest-based material has been closely monitored.

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