FSC Training Update

After commemorating 20 Years of Certification in February, there was an opinion that the impact of certification systems against forest destruction is still.. well let’s say.. less significant. Their opinions sure with a good reason, deforestation and land forest conversion as if no longer possible to be stopped. But the certification system here is trying to lower the pace of deforestation, the methods are constantly evolving, changing, and customize every changes that change dynamically.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has recently launched the new principles. This information is certainly very important for the assessors who concern about forest certification. Therefore Remark Asia AiKnow (Asia Institute of Knowledge) and FSC organizes this FSC Certification Training which will be the basic step to go to the next level, ie FSC auditor training.

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This training will be held on August 22-24th 2016 (Changes from the previous July 19th – 21st, 2016) at Sahira Hotel  Jl A. Yani Bogor, West Java.
For further information please contact the number listed on the flyer, or email us at re-markasia@re-markasia.com

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We all win when new trees are planted. Let’s make it an election pledge

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Wooded areas close to conurbations provide space for running, cycling, climbing and dog walking. Photograph: Alamy

That dangerous pre-election period has begun, where social issues can easily fall off the agenda in favour of politicians making financial promises in an effort to woo the electorate and put the economy centre stage in the debate. Over the next five months, we will hear plenty about high-speed rail, airport expansions and the housing crisis, often at the expense of issues of health, wellbeing and social isolation.

Yet economic and social benefits don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Of course, there’s no silver bullet, but we can start by channelling investment and political will into UK industries that have a broader multiplying effect on society beyond their basic financial contribution.

The forestry and timber products sector is just one example of a productive UK industry (valued at £8.5bn by the Office for National Statistics) with ripple effects far beyond the economy. It’s now well accepted that the quality of our living and working environments is directly connected to our physical and mental health, energy levels and overall fitness. At a time when we’re seeing worrying statistics demonstrating an increase in young people with mental health issues and clear links between poverty and obesity, this has arguably never been more important.

For example, the presence of natural spaces, such as woodlands, for walking, contemplation and exercise has been shown to relieve physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and obesity, as well as mental symptoms of stress and depression. It’s for this reason that the Forestry Commission has developed strong links with the NHS; patients are regularly being prescribed to use its walks in their rehabilitation, while the organisation’s own NHS Forest initiative has been established to link hospitals with local green spaces.

Then there’s the recreational value of having wooded areas close to conurbations for activities such as running, cycling, climbing and dog walking. There are an estimated 250m day visits to woodlands each year and the annual value of recreation in Britain’s forests is worth about £484m to the economy. Woodland generation is playing a major role in regenerating brownfield sites and bringing fresh forest closer to urban areas, yet only around 10% of the population have access to local woodland within 500 metres of their home. This must be increased and ought to be a campaign promise for all politicians.

That’s where the commercial forestry industry can help. Growing trees for timber production is a long-term investment; it takes 40 to 60 years for trees to reach maturity, depending on the species. But if commercial forests are opened to the public, which most are, that means 40-60 years of beneficial leisure, education and recreation opportunities, not to mention a wide array of ecosystem services – something you can’t say about the construction of a new motorway. Today’s sustainable forestry management practices mean more trees are grown in a continuous, renewable cycle.

There are also social wins from the increased use of timber products inside our homes and buildings. The thermal properties of timber can a provide a warm, energy-efficient and long-lasting finish, while the combination of natural light and the organic feel of wood has been shown to lower stress levels.

This was proven at the ground-breaking Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care at Bath’s Royal United Hospital. The designers used exposed timber throughout the centre to differentiate it from more typically cold and clinical hospital environments. A research project analysed the stress levels of parents visiting both the old neonatal unit and the new Dyson centre. While families arrived with similar levels of anxiety, prolonged time spent in the old unit saw stress levels rise in the majority of visitors. In stark contrast, those who stayed in the new centre actually saw their stress levels fall.

If we are to boost woodland cover in the UK and expose more of the population to its benefits, we must expand the UK forest estate and drive investment in new commercial forests. This means recognising the benefits and boosting demand for the products and use of timber.

To achieve this, we need a new approach to valuing and rewarding the management, improvement and expansion of the woodland ecosystems. This means opening up existing woodlands and creating new ones accessible to the public. Investment is required to make this attractive to woodland owners – for example, supporting open access or pathways.

In tandem, we need policies favouring the long-term use of timber in the built environment. Without demand for products from the forest, there will be no investment and, therefore, no skills, jobs or wider benefits.

Parties need to look beyond making facile financial offers during this coming election. Instead, they should start thinking about how economic measures can also improve our health and wellbeing, and our natural world, while providing skilled jobs in a wide range of industries from forestry to manufacturing and house building.

The social impact hub is funded by Anglo American. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled ‘brought to you by’. Find out more here.

Source: theguardian

Q&A: Can palm oil ever be sustainable?

palm oilTwo of the world’s largest palm oil companies have pledged to end deforestation. Is it working? Image: REUTERS/Samsul Said

As the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 gathers for its general assembly in Jakarta this week, two of the world’s largest palm oil companies, Unilever and Wilmar, tell us how their commitments to ending deforestation are working out.

Unilever is a global food company that has pledged to source 100% sustainable palm oil from traceable sources by 2020. We talk to Jeff Seabright, the company’s chief sustainability officer.

(Scroll down the page for the interview with Wilmar.)

What is Unilever hoping to get out of the Tropical Forest Alliance first general assembly?

The TFA is our enabler to turn implementation into reality and now we must aggressively drive this forward and maintain momentum. Given the critical situation in Indonesia following last year’s forest fires and the amount of carbon dioxide this emitted into the atmosphere, there is no better place for us to meet than Jakarta, so we can continue the conversation with the people working so hard on the ground and start to understand some of the issues.

Our critical objective for 2016 is to move from ambition to action by landing a handful of real “produce protect” partnerships. The future of the TFA will depend on quality of engagements not quantity and numbers. It is critical that we deliver on the promise of public-private solutions for “production protection” models in our key geographies of Indonesia, West Africa and Brazil.

How has the Paris agreement affected companies’ no deforestation commitments?

The Paris agreement was a historic moment in time. We were hoping that the final agreement would acknowledge the important role that forests play in tackling climate change – and it absolutely did.

WRI analysis shows that the INDCs submitted represent the greatest collective commitment to reduce land use emissions ever seen in international climate negotiations. China, Brazil, Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo put forth targets that could alone contribute to the protection of more than 50 million hectares of forest over the next 15 years, an area the size of Spain. This could achieve a reduction of 17 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 over 15 years, or 2.5% of the current total annual emissions globally.

The challenge now is to help countries meet their INDC commitments on forests. One promising route forward is what we call place-based partnerships or a “produce protect” approach.

What is Unilever’s biggest challenges to meeting its no deforestation commitments?

Our biggest challenge remains traceability for palm oil sourcing. This is a current industry-wide issue.

In 2013 we made a commitment to get full traceability of our palm oil supply chain. To make sure this happens and ensure that our products are free from deforestation, Unilever works with Global Forest Watch, a NASA satellite based forest monitoring platform. Through this advanced platform, we continue to investigate, monitor and verify real-time developments in Indonesian and Malaysian forests. Should an incidence be identified as linked to our direct supplier or one of our suppliers’ suppliers, we will engage with our supplier to take immediate remedial action. To date, we achieved traceability of 72% of our palm oil. This will allow us to achieve our target to purchase all palm oil sustainably from certified, traceable sources by 2020 or earlier.

What has happened in Unilever’s palm oil supply chain over the last year?

Our focus has been traceability, advancing our smallholder farmer programme and creating wider system change through industry alliances such as the TFA.

On traceability, there was a significant development in November 2015, when we officially opened our Sei Mangkei fractionation plant in North Sumatra, a €130 million investment in the Indonesian economy. What is significant about this is that it connects smallholder farmers in a 50km radius to the factory, taking a landscape-management approach, so we know exactly where the palm oil is coming from and can work with partners such as RSPO and IDH to train the farmers in sustainable practices.

The landscape management approach goes beyond traceability, which can only manage environmental and livelihood benefits on a plantation-by-plantation basis, to deliver both supply-chain security for business, as well as net positive environmental impacts and improved smallholder farmer livelihoods at scale.

Knowing the origin of palm oil is an important first step. But to achieve the ambitious shared goal of a net positive environmental impact and improved smallholder farmer livelihoods, we need to go beyond traceability.

Unilever and IDH have commissioned the development of a delivery strategy to achieve our medium to long-term environmental and livelihood goals, initially focused on the key landscapes from which Unilever sources.

Wilmar International Ltd, the world’s largest palm oil trader, has unveiled an online platform that provides transparency and “traceability” in its supply chain, listing the names and locations of refineries and palm oil mills. We talk to Jeremy Goon, the company’s chief sustainability officer.

What are some of the key milestones Wilmar has achieved since the launch of its no deforestation policy in December 2013?

In December 2013, we made a commitment to drive sustainable practices and accelerate transformation in the palm oil industry, by announcing our No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy. This integrated policy extends across Wilmar’s entire supply chain, including our joint ventures and third-party suppliers.

The key milestones we have achieved are summarized in the graphic below.

What barriers do companies face in fulfilling their no deforestation commitments, and how can these be addressed?

The drivers of deforestation and degradation are bigger than the palm oil industry and need to be addressed holistically. Achieving sustainability goals will require cooperation and coordination of multiple stakeholders with diverse interests; including agri-business companies, NGOs/CSOs, local communities and governments.

Industry players should come together to implement and enforce their no deforestation policies throughout their supply chain, and also encourage and support the adoption of similar no deforestation policies by their suppliers.

Wilmar has had success with some of our major suppliers who have agreed to adopt similar no deforestation policies for their group- wide business activities. With those who have failed to show progress in complying with our sustainability requirements, we have decisively suspended business relationships with them.

Despite sustainability commitments by palm oil majors, there continues to be a market for unsustainable palm oil. NGOs should focus their campaigning efforts on these companies instead, and exert pressure on them to conform to high sustainability standards.

What can Wilmar do to help smallholder farmers?

Smallholders are an integral part of the palm oil industry, and we recognize that they face unique challenges in conforming to enhanced sustainability requirements, and attaining certification. Wilmar conducts ongoing consultations with smallholders, and provides them with technical assistance to support their compliance with our integrated policy. We are also working with Wild Asia, a Malaysian social enterprise, to help individual smallholders attain RSPO certification, and have a similar plan in place for Indonesia.

Wilmar is a signatory and founding member of the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), together with five other palm oil majors. IPOP seeks to create an environment which enables and promotes the production of sustainable palm oil that is deforestation free, expands social benefits, and improves palm oil’s market competitiveness.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is a partnership that brings together governments, businesses and civil society organizations to remove deforestation from the production of beef, soy, palm oil and paper. It’s currently convening its first General Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia.