Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification organisation

Sustainability & PEFC

The simple act of sourcing or purchasing a product with the PEFC label can have far-reaching positive implications, not least in terms of sustainable consumption.

PEFC’s ‘act locally, think globally’ approach offers substantial benefits and contributes positively to the maintenance and enhancement of global forestry.

PEFC UK are hugely supportive of the UK Government plan to plant trees towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Woodlands provide a positive contribution to the natural world, they enhance the quality of life for millions of people, and they provide the raw material for our buildings, books, and even our clothes.

However, at this point in the earth’s history, the most important role played by trees is that of climate regulation and their role in reducing the degree to which the climate will change. Trees lock up carbon as they grow and can mitigate the negative impacts of climate change by offering shade and protecting soils and water supplies. 

We support Confor’s proposed UK target of planting 40,000 hectares of new woodland per year between now and 2030 to reduce atmospheric carbon in the fight against climate change.

Below are the four devolved regions of the Forestry Commission who are all PEFC certified for forest management.


Within PEFC-certified forests, managers must ensure that forest management activities maintain, conserve and enhance biodiversity.

Developing standards nationally means that they can be tailored to the specific local biodiversity, environmental and ecological conditions in a country, and with consideration for local political, socio-economic, cultural and administrative conditions, thereby reflecting and responding to national and local concerns and priorities.

This includes that natural generation is preferred and that native species are favoured in reforestation and afforestation where appropriate Forest managers are required to ensure that special key biotopes are protected, harvest levels and forest productivity are balanced, and degraded forest ecosystems are rehabilitated.

PEFC criteria also stipulate chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides be substituted by natural alternatives or minimised.

Climate Change

PEFC forest certification provides assurances that the forest resources are maintained or enhanced, ensuring that they can act as a sink, capturing and storing carbon dioxide. PEFC certification also provides assurances that wood and non-wood products have been sourced from sustainably managed sources. Using sustainably-sourced wood to substitute for other more carbon-intensive sources of energy, or to substitute for carbon-intensive building materials such as steel or cement, contributes towards lowering carbon footprints. This in turn reduces damage to the forest, thereby allowing it to play a role in combating climate change.

Indigenous People and Social Issues

By requiring that local stakeholders be involved in standard-setting and decision-making before a system can be endorsed, PEFC ensures that standards are adapted to meet local cultural, socio-economic, physical, biological, climatic, and geopolitical realities while at the same time meeting internationally-recognised benchmarks for sustainable forest management. 

We also require that forest management activities shall be conducted in recognition of the established framework of legal, customary and traditional rights, which shall not be infringed upon without the free and informed consent of the holders of the rights, PEFC has been requiring compliance with all fundamental ILO conventions in forest management since 2001, setting new benchmarks for social issues.


Water & Soil

PEFC requires forest management to aim to maintain or enhance the protective functions of forests for society. This includes the protection of water resources and from adverse impacts of water such as floods or avalanches, and the protection from soil erosion.

We require that special care be given to forest management practices on forest areas with water protection functions to avoid adverse effects on the quality and quantity of water resources. Further reading can be found in “Water & Soil”

Illegal Logging

Illegal logging and the subsequent trade of illegal timber undermines social equity, environmental conservation, sustainable development and economic growth in many countries around the world. Market-based mechanisms like forest certification and verification of legality offer assurances about the legality of forest products to customers throughout the supply chain.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification, including its requirements on due diligence and non-controversial sources, is designed to prevent illegal wood from entering the production chain. Third party auditing to verify system integrity provides assurances that PEFC-certified products entering the marketplace are not from illegal wood sources.

For companies, chain of custody certification is an important risk management tool as it demonstrates that they are taking their responsibility and commitment to legal wood procurement seriously and assists them in meeting the requirements of the EUTR.