Stora Enso‘s hope of seeing one national forest certification standard in Finland has taken a step forward after the successful completion of the first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group certification project in the country.

The Stora Enso-led pilot project, involving a group of three forest owners, was partially designed to promote dialogue between the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) and FSC, plus create options in forest certification.

The project, which involved the granting of FSC forest management certificates for a 10,000ha area in southern Finland, represented the first extensive FSC certification and the first application of the national draft FSC standard.

Susanna Rissanen, Stora Enso Wood Supply Finland’s sustainability manager, said: “In the long run, we hope to have one national standard in Finland, which both FSC and PEFC could endorse.”

Stora Enso also initiated the project to assess the feasibility, cost and development needs of FSC group certification and the Finnish draft FSC standard. It also wanted to create better balance between ecological, social and economic aspects of FSC certification.

Currently, more than 95% of Finnish forests are certified to PEFC, which Stora Enso also supports and says is well suited to Finnish family forestry.

WWF welcomed the group certification as a positive step to promote FSC certification in Finland. It said a parallel certification test by UPM and the finalisation of the Finnish FSC standard were “encouraging” signs.