By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 17 Jan: Silviculture and Forest Management Division of Forest Research Institute held a training workshop for the officers of the State Forest Departments from 16 to 17 January on “Forest Certification in Indian Context”. Forest Certification is a market-mechanism for forest monitoring, tracing and labelling of timber, wood and pulp products and non-timber forest products and leads to the issuing of a certificate by an independent party thereby signifying that the area of forest is managed to a defined standard. Forest Certification refers to two separate processes viz., Forest Management Unit Certification (FMU) and Chain of Custody Certification (COC). Forest management certification is a process which verifies that an area of forest or plantation from where the wood, fibre and other non-timber forest products are extracted is managed to a defined standard. COC certification is a process of tracking forest products from the certified forest to the point of sale to ensure that product originated from a certified forest. Forest certification is a rapidly developing subject under sustainable forest management, and most of the forest officials do not have adequate knowledge and experience about it, and are thus not able to apply it in their area. Lectures and interactive discussion were arranged to enlighten the participants about this subject from experts belonging to Indian Institute of Management, Bhopal; Indian Export Promotional Council on Handicraft, New Delhi; Green Initiatives Certification & Inspection Agency (GICIA), Noida; and state forest departments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. A half-day field visit to Timber Depot of State Forest Depot at Saharanpur was also arranged for the participants. The Workshop was inaugurated on 16 January in the Board Room of FRI, by Dr SC Gairola, Director General, ICFRE. He stated that principles of sustainable forest management have been followed in India for long. He highlighted the importance of forest certification and emphasised that proper understanding and application of this mechanism by forest officers would improve the quality of forest and enhance the quantity of forest produce and ensure sustainable forest management. Dr MD Omprakash, Indian Institute of Management, Bhopal, explained the process of forest certification based on Criteria and Indicators. He also stated that timber importing countries, such as India, should ensure that they import raw material derived from sustainably managed forests; only then their finished products would be saleable in the international market. He also said that there is need to focus on certification of non-wood forest products (NWFP) as India is a major exporter of NWFP. Dr SD Sharma, Deputy Director General (Research), ICFRE highlighted the need to address forest certification in the new forest policy of India, which is in the draft stage. He stated that many developed countries and a few developing countries have well established systems of forest certification and they export legally extracted timbers that have economic, environmental and social values. There was need to quickly learn from those countries to meet this international requirement for export of timber and NTFPs to other countries. Dr Dinesh Kumar, Scientist- G and Head, Silviculture and Forest Management Division of FRI welcomed the participants. SK Thomas, Assistant Silviculturist, FRI, coordinated the training programme.