Forestry – a certification perspective

Below is a post Dr Gavin Jordan wrote, starting a discussion on the linked-in ‘forest management and Wood Sourcing’ group site. Although it does not directly tie-in with ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, and does has some implications for forest certification.

When I studied wood science/forest products at the University of Wales, Bangor, back in the mid-1980s, we spent a lot of time analysing trade flows and timber production, using the TRADA ‘little red books’ and other sources explaining what timber was produced where in the worlds natural forests. Most of that trade has now stopped, and the books are of historic interest today, just 30 years later, due to economics or environmental concerns.

Current sustainability tools – primarily forest certification, have proved too demanding for much of the production in natural forests in countries with weak governance, hence ‘Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) , which likewise have proved very demanding (no licensed timber has yet been produced) and from a wood production perspective have been ‘disappointing’.

Environmentally, as natural forest has become scarcer, it has become more valued as a resource in its own right (i.e. standing) for multiple benefits rather than as a timber resource.

I would argue that these two factors combined spell the death of traditional (i.e. natural or ‘old-growth’ ) tropical forestry. Going into an area of forest that has not been previously silviculturally managed and harvesting will increasingly become an impossibility. The standing forests of south east Asia, central and (limited in extent already) west Africa, and south America will increasingly become reserves, too expensive/difficult to manage under FSC/VPA, and too valuable to global society to harvested without certification.

I suspect that by 2030 logging natural tropical forest will be viewed the same way as slavery now is – a historical aberration to be regretted and apologised about.

Tropical forests will be managed as a mixture/blend of community-forests and protected areas. Tropical forest resources with higher biodiversity or special values will increasingly become national or international reserves, drawing down funding for their management from international development/climate funds.Tropical commercial production will by almost solely from plantation forests. The rural landscape will be a mosaic of farmland, woodlots and community forest, plantation and isolated reserves with connectivity being attempted.

ISO 9001 or ISO 14001?

Across the West Midlands we meet with clients who ask us whether ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 is the standard to get accredited to first. Generally, we feel that ISO 9001 makes sense as the first standard, as it helps to embed a quality ethos and a good approach to management systems, audit and review. Exceptions are where there may be a sector specific reason to go for ISO 14001, perhaps forestry, arboriculture or environmental consultancies.

Of course, both may be the best answer. This allows scores to be maximised in PQQ and tendering exercises. We recently had a forestry client in Birmingham decide on both, an obvious choice for that sector.

Shropshire Star Press Release

We got a nice press release in the Shropshire Star on Feb 19th, as the only Shropshire-based UKAS accredited certification body:

“A Telford based business has become the first in Shropshire to assess other companies for key management accreditations.

Interface NRM, based at the e-Innovation centre in Priorslee, is the only certification body in Shropshire which ios recognised by industry monitors UKAS. Now it has won the right to assess companies for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) certificates.

Managing Director Gavin Jordan said “UKAS accreditation will enable us to provide our clients with the very highest level of ISO certification available, coupled with an effective, efficient and supportive service. “As one of the very few UKAS accredited certification bodies in the West Midlands, Interface will also be very competitive on pricing.”