With increasingly globalized markets, forest-products businesses may have supply chains that extend to all four corners of the globe, and this has led to a corresponding increase in the need for independent verification services, to provide transparency in these supply chains, and increase confidence in the credentials of trading partners.
Since RFS’s inception in 2005, part of the company’s core focus has been Environmental Auditing, against a wide range of global standards. RFS was established on the solid foundation of the founders’ common background in the FSC® world, and the independent third-party scrutiny of forest management practices applied through the development and use of the FSC® and PEFCTM standards around the world. However, only a small proportion of the global forest estate is certified, in spite of rapid expansion of the FSC®– and PEFCTM certification schemes in some regions.
Verification of basic facts concerning forestry operations (including the actual extent of forested areas), the conformity of management practices with the applicable legal framework, and conformance with manufacturing standards further downstream in the supply chain (Health & Safety standards, Environmental and Social Impacts of operations, etc.), has become a de facto requirement for buyers in many markets.
In the absence of, or in advance of, certification of a forestry project – or even given the existence of an FSC® or PEFCTM certificate – independent verification of realities on the ground by an independent entity such as RFS can play a critical role in achieving or maintaining market access, and/or demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements. Recent trends have been for an increased emphasis on demonstrating the Legal Origin of forest products; and nascent but burgeoning carbon markets, and demand for credits generated through forestry projects, also bring with them their own verification and validation requirements.