Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) Council chairman Henri Plauche-Gillon has called for the harmonisation of government timber procurement policies.

Mr Plauche-Gillon, speaking at the general assembly of the council – which is the world mutual recognition umbrella of PEFC, said failure to harmonise government procurement could put at risk the development of certification as a tool to promote sustainable forest management.

He applauded the governments of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, the UK, Spain and Japan for their efforts to give preference to certified timber.

“They must, however, be mindful that timber is traded internationally and that, as major buyers of wood, their procurement policies affect this trade,” he said.

“In order to avoid the same certified timber being recognised as legal and sustainable in one country but not in another, governments, especially in the EU countries where most procurement policies are currently being developed, must make every effort to ensure a harmonised approach.”

The PEFC Council has also announced the endorsement of Brazil’s national certification system for sustainable forest management.

The system, called CERFLOR, covers both plantations and natural forests and is administered by Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardisation and Industrial Quality.

Some 900,000ha of forests have already been certified against the standard, which features safeguards for the observation of environmental laws, including the protection of threatened species.