New Delhi, Jan 13 (PTI) India’s internationally benchmarked Forest Management Certification Standard (FMCS) was launched today with an aim to bring a shift towards responsible utilisation of natural resources and trade of forest products.

Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) in association with the ministries of environment, agriculture, commerce and industry, textiles and leading industry bodies and companies launched the standard.

An NCCF statement, while elaborating on the need for the standard, said that forest resource has been under strain primarily because of two reasons–commercial use of wood and deforestation due to changes in land use.

Till now, two approaches were adopted–the ‘top-down’ approach wherein government formulated and implemented policies and the ‘bottom-up’ approach which was more of a participatory approach to protect forests.

However, ineffectiveness of both had led to a third approach–forest certification.

“It introduces policy changes through commercial power, rather than central or local power, and uses market acceptance rather than regulatory compliance as an enforcement mechanism,” the statement said.

It added that, besides this, regulations from developed countries like Lacey Amendment Act, 2008 (USA), European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), Forest Law Enforcement in Governance and Trade (FLEGT), Logging Prohibition Act, 2011 (Australia) and others had put a ban on commerce of illegally sourced plants and their products, including timber and paper.

Majorly, it had fuelled the need for legalising of sourcing through forest certification in the recent past, the statement said.

“The domestic certification scheme took three years of rigorous process, several rounds of discussions, regional consultation workshops and pilot testing to give its final shape.

“The standard provides flexibility in addressing variability in forests and biodiversity, provides traceability and legality mechanism thus control in illegal felling, ensures responsible trade both from buyer side and supplier side, among others,” NCCF chairman Vijai Sharma said.

The National Certification Scheme for Sustainable Forest Management was also launched today.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.