Need for forest certification stressed

Special Correspondent

KOCHI: Forest management will assume greater significance in the days to come, Principal Secretary (Forests and Wildlife) P.K. Mohanty has said.

He was inaugurating a consultative meeting on forest certification, organised by the WWF-India, Global Forest and Trade Network-India, and the ‘Switch Asia Project’ of the European Commission, here on Tuesday.

Certification of forests would have to be considered in the context of restrictions imposed on the trade of timber and wooden products within and outside the country, he said.

Cutting down of trees and decay of roots had been contributing to global warming. Artisans were often confronted with questions on sourcing of sandalwood for handicrafts. Such aspects pointed to the shortcomings in the forest management system, Mr. Mohanty said.

The Indian conditions posed challenges in respect to the application of certification procedures adopted elsewhere. The Indian forests are fragmented, WWF programme director Sejal Worah said. The WWF was keen on building awareness among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in States such as Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, she said.

Certified wood

There is increasing demand for certified wood in importing countries, mostly in Europe. The SMEs here would face a problem then, she added. The European Union is developing approaches to deal with such issued at the regional level, she added.

Unsustainable practices would widen the gap between demand and supply of timber, according to Alan Smith, network coordination team leader of the Bonn-based Forest Stewardship Council International Centre, an organisation engaged in the forest certification process.

The demand for forest produce is on the rise worldwide and the export of wood, paper and handicraft items would come in for scrutiny in the event of mandatory certification, he said.

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