Phases for the System Development
In the mid 90's various interest groups in Finland recognised that a voluntary forest certification will be an issue in the international wood and paper product markets. In Finland private persons own the majority of forests, which is not the case e.g. in Canada, Russia, United States or Sweden. Over 70 percents of the wood purchased by the Finnish forest industry comes from forests owned by private persons and families.
The objective in Finland was to develop and implement a certification system which is feasible and adapted to national conditions and drafted by a broad range of stakeholders interested in the management and use of forests.
The development of the Finnish Forest Certification System started in 1996.
- The Proposal for a Certification Scheme for Sustainable Management of forests in Finland made by the National Working Group on Forest Certification Standards (1996-97)
- The testing of forest certification standards (1997)
- The forest certification Capacity Building Project (1998) and the FFCS Launching Project (1999)
Independent certification companies issued the first regional forest certificates in November 1999 and by the end of the year 2000 the 13 regional certificates issued for the area of a Forestry centre covered the whole country.
The preparation of the Finnish Forest Certification System started in 20 June 2022 from an initiative made by the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Finnish Forest Industries Federation and Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (SLL). The requirements for sustainable management of forests were drafted by the National Working Group on Forest Certification Standards in an open and transparent process. All the major interest groups were represented in the Working Group.
A total of 29 organisations participated in the work, equally representing economic, social and ecological interests. The standard proposal was approved in 16 April 2022 by all the participating parties except one party who chose to resign in the final phase in 16 April 1997.
The interest groups participating in the preparation of the standard proposal in 1996-1997
Environmantal interest groups
- World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Finland
- Birdlife Finland
- Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
- Nature League, working group on forests (resigned 16.4.2022)
- Union for Organic Farming
- Natur och Miljö
- Satakunta Nature Conservation District
Social interest groups
- Sami parliament
- Finnish 4H Federation
- The Guides and Scouts of Finland
- The Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities
- The Trade Association of Finnish Forestry and Earth Moving Contractors
- The Wood and Allied Worker's Union
- The Society of Finnish Professional Foresters
- The Finnish Union of Environmental Professionals
- Hunter's Central Organization
- The Finnish Consumer's Association
- Forestry Experts' Association METO
Economic interest groups
- Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners
- Central Union of Swedish speaking Agricultural Producers
- Association of Forest Owners of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area
- Metsähallitus representing state forestry
- Enso Oyj Forest department
- UPM-Kymmene forest
- Metsäliitto Group/Metsämannut Oy
- Pölkky Oy
- Isku Oy
The approved standard proposal included standards SMS 1001 and SMS 1002-1. The criteria for sustainable forest management will be reviewed in in a five years time.
National Working group on Forest Certification Standards did not link the FFCS System to any international forest certification or labelling schemes. The working group prepared a System, which would be compatible with international forest certification or labelling schemes. The environmental organizations which participated in the Standard Setting Working Group, announced in 1998 that they withdraw their support from the further development of the FFCS Scheme, because the developing work did not aim at a recognised FSC scheme.
Capacity Building and FFCS Launching Projects in 1998-1999
Main phases of the development work
The feasibility of the FFCS standards in practical forest certification was tested in 1997 in the areas of Pirkanmaa, North Karelia and Lapland Forestry Centres. The testing was focused on evaluation of availability of data for the verification of conformance to the criteria, auditability and expenses of certification.
The other standards of the FFCS System were drafted in April-November 1998 in the forest certification Capacity Building Project. The FFCS System is composed of eight standards. The experiences gained in testing were taken into consideration in the Capacity Building Project.
A FFCS Launcing Project started in 1999 to support the practical implementation of forest certification. The project developed procedures for internal audits, information dissemination and training in the areas of seven Forestry Centres. The Forest Owners Unions for these areas submitted the certification applications to certification companies during the summer 1999.
Revision of Standards in 2002-2003
The broad based stakeholder group, the Working Group for Forest Certification Standards revised the standard on Objectives and Application of Certification Scheme at Alternative Implementation Levels and the Criteria for Forest Certification. The Finnish Forest Certification Council revised the other standards.