The great success of Swedish forest group Södra's FSC group scheme proves that large scale FSC certification of small private forest land In Europe is possible.
The forests managed by the Södra Group already held PEFC certification; however based on strong market demands for FSC, Södra decided to obtain FSC forest management group certification and offer their member operations to join the scheme.
Since 1 July this year, Södra has offered FSC group certification to its members and has paid a double price premium to members holding FSC and PEFC dual certification.
Södra has not only offered a price premium, but also made an effort to explain the market value of FSC certification to its member operations. In a brochure, Södra presents the new FSC option using headlines such as “our clients demand FSC”, “FSC often a condition for sale”, “a first choice on the wood products market”, and “increased competitiveness based on dual certification”.
Thousands of Södra operations FSC-certified
Klara Helstad, project manager for Södra's dual certification, says: "The interest in joining the FSC scheme under our group certificate has been very significant.
Since July, 8,000 Södra member operations covering more than 800,000 hectares have opted for adding FSC certification to their existing PEFC certificate. The Södra membership area now under dual FSC and PEFC certification is roughly half of the total PEFC-certified area managed by Södra members, and the FSC certified area is still growing. The dual certification of our members helps us to increase our group's competitiveness".
President of Södra Cell International Ulf Edman says: "We experienced a strong demand for FSC-certified products from clients throughout Europe. Our increased access to supplies of FSC raw material based on certification of our members immediately increased our sales of FSC-certified pulp. Next year, we expect to sell around 250 000 tons of FSC-pulp, roughly 12% of our total sales. And we expect our FSC sales to grow further in future".
Edman points out that Södra gains a distinct market advantage by having FSC-products on the shelf: "We now have an advantage compared to our competitors who do not offer FSC-certified products. It is easier for us to attract the most interesting clients."
Södra is an eonomic association of Swedish forest owners, with a membership of 35,000 forest properties and 52,000 members. Together, they own just over half of all privately owned forest in Southern Sweden, as well as a group of companies providing a market for Södra members' raw materials.
The Group’s four business areas produce sawn and planed timber goods, interior products, paper pulp and biofuel. Around 3,700 people work for the Group, in areas that range from forestry management and environmental conservation to accounting, sales and product development.