Local stakeholders are responsible for developing and maintaining their national forest management standard, in response to local demand, interest and commitment.
Developing national standards
The nationally driven development of forest management standards is at the heart of PEFC and Responsible Wood’s success. It helps to ensure the long-term commitment of all stakeholders, and particularly those responsible for implementing the requirements. This is because they are not simply following the requirements, but also helped develop them.
The national forest management standard is an influential standard, as it sets out the requirements that forest owners and managers must meet in order to achieve Responsible Wood and PEFC certification in Australia. This means the standard must be developed carefully, ensuring all relevant stakeholders are involved. We therefore set out strict requirements covering both the content of the standard and its development process.
The development process involves many stakeholders, but is facilitated by a specific organisation called the standardizing body. In Australia, the standardizing body is Responsible Wood.
Establishing a working group
A standard setting working group develops the Responsible Wood forest management standard. The standardizing body uses stakeholder mapping to identify stakeholders that need to join the process, ensuring key and disadvantaged stakeholders are able to participate.
The working group must have balanced representation, this means having different interests around the table, with no interest group dominating the process. We base the interest groups on Agenda 21 and include business and industry, children and youth, forest owners, indigenous people, local authorities, NGOs, scientific and technological communities, women, and workers and trade unions. Furthermore, we require the standardizing body considers gender balance in their selection of candidates for the working group.
Developing the draft
The starting point for the working group can vary: building on existing work, a draft document specifically prepared for the group, or starting from a blank piece of paper. The working group uses a consensus driven approach to develop and agree on the content of the forest management standard, addressing all the requirements of the PEFC International Sustainable Forest Management benchmark (PEFC ST 1003).
Testing the draft
Once the working group has reach consensus on the standard, the enquiry draft is circulated for a 60-day public consultation. This provides the working group with additional feedback, input and comments, and helps ensure the standard meets national expectations.
To determine whether the standard works on the ground, the draft standard also goes through a pilot test, with the results feeding back into the working group.
The final draft
Using the comments and findings from the public consultation and pilot test, the working group produces the final draft of the standard. The decision to recommend the final draft for formal approval is based on consensus. In case of sustained opposition on a specific issue, the working group will need to make every effort to try to find a solution acceptable to all stakeholders.
The standardizing body will formally approve the standard based on evidence of consensus reached by the working group. Once done, the new standard is published.
Five years after the formal approval, PEFC require a review of the Responsible Wood standard. This periodic review ensures that the standard is updated so it can continue to meet stakeholder demands and expectations.
The review process includes the consideration of feedback received during the standard’s implementation, a gap analysis with current PEFC requirements, legislation and other relevant standards, and finally the consultation of Responsible Wood stakeholders. Based on the review, the standardizing body then decides either to revise the standard or to reaffirm it without any changes.