Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification organisation

Fashion Industry’s Sustainable Shift: PEFC’s Role in Forest-Positive Practices

Posted on November 28, 2023

Last month, Swinley Forest saw PEFC host an exclusive event for fashion brands and retailers, inviting them to learn more about sustainable forest management (SFM) and its positive impacts on biodiversity, forest regeneration and climate change mitigation.

The fashion industry faces the challenges of climate change and dwindling energy resources, and sustainability has become a non-negotiable benchmark for assessing sourcing practices. Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF), including viscose, modal, lyocell, and acetate, can play a key role in this transformation. Starting with PEFC certified and responsibly sourced raw materials enables buyers to make forest-positive choices.

The field trip gave participants a real-world forest experience and helped them understand the challenges and opportunities in achieving traceability of forest-based materials. It was tailored to stakeholders and brands along the MMCF value chain and included a workshop to discuss practical solutions to common challenges regarding traceability.  These included limited IT resources, a gap in understanding of what forest certification delivers, the need for consumer education, upcoming legal requirements, complexity in the MMCF supply chain and low take up of certification by fabric mills. Possible solutions included: ongoing supplier engagement and collaboration with fibre suppliers to highlight the need for clear data to substantiate traceability and compliance with standards.

Recognised as an important element of the fashion industry’s sustainability strategy, responsible sourcing is vital to address environmental and social risks. Hardly surprising then that brands are increasingly incorporating PEFC certification into their sustainable sourcing strategies for forest-based materials.

The field trip to Swinley Forest showed what SFM certification means in practice.  Participants witnessed how biodiversity is both maintained and enhanced in PEFC certified forests, and which practices are implemented to promote it, including ecological water management, the protection of ground nesting birds and the creation of forest corridors.

Other forestry practices observed during the field trip that help mitigate climate change, were the careful consideration given to the selection of tree species in PEFC-certified forests and the continuous improvement and adaptive management techniques being developed, to change crop cover and manage forests more effectively, while still ensuring economic viability.

PEFC’s mission is to advance SFM globally and has long been engaging with the fashion industry, working to bridge the knowledge gap regarding fashion’s impact on forests and forest positive sourcing. Earlier this year it released a textiles whitepaper, showing how SFM helps mitigate risks,  while generating a wide array of benefits to forests and those whom use them.

The complexity of global value chains often leaves companies struggling to trace the origins of their raw materials. PEFC chain of custody certification ensures transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain, from logging to the final product.

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