Sustainable forestry

Wood is one of the most important raw materials in industry: it is renewable and can be used almost without limits. In addition to economic aspects, the natural material and the forests from which it comes also have an unspeakable ecological value. To counteract the exploitation of forests, there is the principle of sustainable forestry. You can find out more about the respective labels and their meaning here.

What does "sustainable forestry" mean?

The forest ecosystem has a variety of functions. It provides a habitat for animals, protects air and water and has a climate-regulating effect. In addition to its ecological functions, the forest also provides people with a wide range of uses. The green landscape serves, for example, as a source of recreation, tourism income and as a raw material supplier for the use of wood for energy. Between these needs and interests, the natural regenerative capacity of the forest must be preserved - in other words, sustainable action must be taken.

Thanks to all its facets, the woods also have a multitude of names: bosk, grove, copse, thicket, timberland, covert – or just "forest". While some of the terms indicate the size or type of woods, a cultivated forest in today's usage is basically just called "managed forest". If we now put the definitions "preservation of the natural regenerative capacity" and a "managed forest" together, the result is "sustainable forestry".

What is "sustainable forestry"?

FOREST EUROPE was founded in 1990 as a result of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. The conference developed several criteria for sustainable forest management, which are constantly being adapted and can be viewed at any time on the FOREST EUROPE website. To simplify matters, we have summarised the most important points:

  • Maintaining the health and vitality of the forest ecosystem
  • Protecting and enhancing forest biodiversity
  • Improving forest resources and ensuring their contribution to global CO2 cycles
  • Protection while managing the forests, especially in the areas of soil and water
  • Maintaining forest productivity (e.g. only cutting as many trees as can grow back in the natural life cycle of a tree)
  • Preservation of other socio-economic functions of the forest.

"Sustainable forestry", on the other hand, is not a precisely defined or protected term. Forest enterprises are subject to legal requirements that address nature conservation laws - but this does not mean that the forest is also managed sustainably.

Depending on the company and the country, sustainable management can take place on a voluntary basis. However, there are some labels that operate under strict and specifically defined guidelines. Many of our products are also produced under these regulations. You can see which ones by the small green icon on the product detail page.

Why should I look for a sustainable seal / label?

According to the Federal Forest Inventory, around 11.4 million hectares in Germany are forest land - i.e. slightly less than a third of Germany consists of forest. What may sound like a lot is rather small in relation to the former forest stock. In addition, German forests have suffered from severe drought in recent years. Too little water made many trees vulnerable to the bark beetle. Before these trees decay, they are therefore felled and used as raw material.

Between economic interests, typical tree diseases, pests, weather conditions (storms or drought), it must be ensured that as many young trees can grow back as trees fall ill or are felled.

Figures from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture from 2013 fortunately show that in Germany more trees grow back (122 million cubic metres per year) than are felled (76 million cubic metres per year).

Unfortunately, however, this is not the case in all countries. In general, land is increasingly cleared for raw material and agricultural use. Although there are global projects to restore deforested and eroded areas such as the "Bonn Challenge" - these cannot change much about this negative trend, despite political support. In times of resource scarcity, it is therefore increasingly important to know where the raw materials come from and whether substitutes are being created for them.

We want to be transparent for you and have therefore marked all products that originate from sustainable forestry with an icon. These icons indicate that the manufacturers of the products have an FSC® seal, PEFC® seal or comparable seal.

FSC seal - forests forever for all

FSC stands for "Forest Stewardship Council" and is an international certification system for sustainable forest management. Founded in 1993, the organisation is committed to safeguarding important environmental and social standards in the forest. These are some of the criteria by which the FSC assesses sustainable forest management:

  • No overexploitation of the forest
  • Promotion of biological diversity
  • Prohibition of clear-cutting
  • Use of pesticides only if required by law
  • Commitment to increasing the number of natural mixed forests
  • Protection of the forest floor
  • Protection of rare species and ecosystems
  • Fair payment of the people working in the forest

Companies only receive an FSC certificate if they fulfil all criteria and have themselves audited at least once a year by independent third parties. We are one of these companies that carry the label.

PEFC seal - the "forest MOT"

PEFC stands for "Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes" and is an independent system for ensuring sustainable forest management. PEFC calls itself a "forest MOT" and operates according to strict guidelines. Independent assessors check the entire production process - from the raw material to the finished end product. In addition, PEFC acts beyond many legal guidelines and thus sets higher standards. We have compiled some illustrative examples:

  • PEFC forests must have biotope trees (dead deadwood). These are no longer economically usable, but serve as homes for protected insects and birds.
  • When working with forestry machinery, accidents with leaking oil can occur. In PEFC-certified forests, only rapidly biodegradable chain adhesion oils and hydraulic fluids may be used. Health-damaging benzenes are also prohibited.
  • Not all afforestation is the same. Depending on the location and soil quality, the trees require certain characteristics (storm, pests, drought). PEFC forests use controlled seed and planting material tailored to the specific planting site. This makes it more likely that the trees will actually grow and stay healthy.

You can find more exciting information about the respective seals and their approaches directly on the pages of the FSC and PEFC.

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