The certification systems ensure sustainable and environment friendly forest management. In Latvia, the forest management and the chain of custody are certified following the two certification systems recognized in Europe – the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes).
The FSC certification is an independent thirdparty verification that the forests covered by the certificate are managed in an environmentfriendly and sustainable way. Moreover, this scheme allows for a follow-up of the flow of forest products starting from the forest area under management up to the end user, providing for an accurate and independent verification over the whole chain of custody.
In Latvia, all the state owned forests of the total area 1.62 million ha are certified following the FSC scheme. The Riga Forest Agency, too, which manages 57,000 ha of forests owned by the City of Riga and about 3,000 ha of forests owned by individuals, has obtained the FSC forest management certificate. In 2004, 88 Latvian forest sector enterprises had the chain-of-custody certificate.
The FSC certificate attests that the respective forests are managed in a far-sighted and environment friendly way, taking into account the economic advantage and abiding by the highest management standards, with due consideration for the environmental constraints in forest operations and the social aspects of forestry essential for the public. The FSC certification enhances the competitiveness of the timber and wood products of Latvian origin on the international market, especially in the UK, which is one of the major markets for Latvian timber. For Latvia it means an economic gain and international recognition as the FSC offers a reliable and accurate forest management certification scheme and forest products labelling, which is applicable to all types of forestry systems. The LVM has given preference to the FSC certification scheme, claiming that it is stable, reliable, and suitable for the conditions of Latvia. All the roundwood assortments offered by the LVM are FSC-certified. Along with a reliable and easy verifiable system of supervising the procedure of forest management, the FSC scheme offers additional economic advantages – world over there is a stable and constantly growing demand for certified timber while for Latvia the wood and wood products are the major export commodity.
In Latvia, both FSC and PEFC certification schemes, widely recognized in Europe, are used for forest management and chain-of-custody certification.
Latvia is one of 31 PEFC member states. The Latvian National PEFC Scheme is endorsed and recognized as acceptable within the PEFC programme for compliance assessment. It means that all the Latvia’s PEFCcertified forests are sustainably managed, and the management practices applied meet the criteria, indicators, and operational guidelines worked out by the European Forest Ministers Conferences “Forest Protection in Europe” (MCPFE).
The forest products certified after the PEFC scheme are realized on the market of 31 countries as products coming from sustainably managed forests and accordingly carrying the PEFC logo. In Latvia, the forest management and chain-of-custody certification after the PEFC scheme started at the end of 2001 by certifying the first regional umbrella organization - the Latvian Forest Owners Association, with totally 1.4 million ha of privately owned forests under it. Under the Latvian PEFC scheme the private forest owner gets a confirmation for participation in the PEFC system and the Logo Licence for his/her forest. Between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2002, these documents were issued to the forest owners, holding certified forests of the total area 12,803 ha. Till the end of 2003 the forest owners had registered certification for a total area of 20,000 ha. In May 2005, the private forest owners involved in the scheme received the confirmation and the Logo Licences for 29,390 ha of forests. In 2004, a number of other forest owners and managers joined the PEFC scheme with the forest management system endorsed totally for 69,190 ha. As of May 2005, in Latvia altogether 98,580 ha of forests are managed following the demands of the PEFC scheme. The number of operators who have obtained the PEFC chain-of-custody certificate is also increasing steadily. This process is developing in line with the market demand. It shows a tendency towards increase along with new countries joining the PEFC programme, whose national forest certification systems are endorsed and accordingly recognized as meeting the demands ofthis international forest certification scheme.