Taiwan has recently received the FSCTM
(Forest Stewardship Council TM
) international certification for the largest national forest area in a record-breaking achievement. The honor went to the national forest that exceeds a total area of 120,000 hectares under the jurisdiction of the Chiayi Forest District Office of the Forestry Bureau. With the goal of standardizing sustainable forest management, the FSC FM/CoC certificate was finally obtained on June 24, 2021 after nearly three years of hard work. This is the first Forest District Office of the Forestry Bureau to obtain the Forest Management (FM) certification for the entire forest area. This also raised Taiwan's cumulative FSCTM certified forest areas to more than 120,000 hectares from over 8,000 hectares, setting a new milestone for national forest management in moving towards sustainable forest management.
According to the Forestry Bureau, the jurisdiction of the Chiayi Forest District Office spans across 5 counties and cities, including Nantou, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung; 17 flatland townships and villages; and 4 indigenous administrative areas. A total of 124,408.76 hectares of National Forests have been certified, of which 15% are forest management areas for commercial wood and bamboo production, with an area of 19,810 hectares. Other areas must also strictly follow FSC regulations, whether they are used for ecosystem protection, forest recreation, or under-forest economy.
At the certification ceremony, Peter Feilberg, Executive Director of Preferred by Nature, a third-party certification company, said: "On behalf of Preferred by Nature, I am honored to witness that the Chiayi Forest District Office has been certified by the globally recognized FSC Forest Certification, which fully demonstrates that the Chiayi Forest District Office has achieved the standard of responsible and sustainable forest management. At the same time, I am very pleased to see that the Forestry Bureau has proposed to strengthen the policy of sustainable forest management, respecting the environment and social justice."
Lin Hwa-Ching, Director General of the Forestry Bureau, also pointed out that the FSCTM
certification emphasizes economic viability, social equity, and environmental sustainability, which are fully in line with the new forestry objectives promoted by the Forestry Bureau. Compared to other international forest certification systems, the FSC has the broadest scope of focus and most stringent requirements. The Forestry Bureau declared the first year of domestic timber in 2017 and launched various plans to revitalize the plantation forest industry, hoping to appropriately increase the local timber self-sufficiency rate and reduce the reliance on imported timber from tropical countries at a time when the deforestation of natural forests abroad has continued to deteriorate. The FSC certification is proof of the Forestry Bureau's commitment to promote the management of the plantation forest industry, which involves three major aspects, namely economic, social and environmental.
Chang Tai, Director of the Chiayi Forest District Office, said that it was no easy feat to pass the FSC FM/CoC certification for the whole forest area. FSCTM
stands for Forest Stewardship Council, which is one of the two major forest certification systems in the world and it enjoys high levels of credibility in the international community. In fact, applications to the FSCTM
for the forest sustainability certification are subject to a rigorous review process. The FSCTM
attaches the utmost importance to universal values such as labor rights, citizen participation, indigenous residents' rights, and openness of information. Passing the certification is proof that the Forestry Bureau operates and manages forest land in a proper and responsible manner, and that it strives to achieve economically viable, environmentally protective, and socially fair sustainable forest management.
In 2019, the Pingtung Forest District Office passed the FSC FM certification for 8,695 hectares of forest land, making it the first agency in Taiwan to receive this certification. Now, the entire area under the jurisdiction of the Chiayi Forest District Office has passed the FSC FM/CoC certification, with a larger area and more benefits for industrial development. According to Director Chang Tai, the Chiayi Forest District Office is the first organization in Taiwan that can provide FSCTM
certified products to the market, which means that Taiwan's forestry operations have become sustainable in accordance with universal standards and are gradually moving toward the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, which can also serve as an indicator for promoting public and private forestry management.
Lee Chun-Yen, Vice Chairman of the Taiwan Forest Certification Development Association (TFCDA), emphasized that the FSCTM
forest certification is a process of forest management certification carried out by an independent third-party certification organization in accordance with the international forest management principles and standards established by the FSCTM
. It is a tool that uses the market mechanism to promote sustainable forest management and to foster responsible forestry practices that value the interests of multiple groups. Receiving the FM/CoC (Forest Management and Forest Products) certification by the FSCTM
will not only enhance the value of trees under the ownership of Taiwan's forest plantation operators, but also improve the competitiveness and added value of forest processing operators' products, as well as create a positive image for Taiwan's forest environment protection and community development.
The Chiayi Forest District Office further explained that the introduction and guidance of the FSCTM
system, concepts, and certification, as well as the production of timber with FSC FM certification, and the processing of various products by operators, also constitute a comprehensive eco-friendly supply chain and value system, in line with international forest management standards. This will help Taiwan move towards the goal of rational, systematic, responsible, and sustainable management, and develop a new era of forestry.