Thursday, 30 April 2020
Kenya embarks in the FSC Interim National Standard to reinforce the responsible management of its forests,
A key step towards responsible forest management in Kenya
All over the world, forests are managed responsibly following FSC international standards. They are adapted at the country level through the implementation of National Standards. However, when those national standards have not yet been developed, some countries produce what we call Interim National Standard (INS). FSC International Generic Indicators are the starting point for developing these standards.
Upon authorization by the Standards and Performance Unit (PSU) at FSC, certification companies, also called Certification Bodies (CBs) can lead the INS development process. Soil Association Limited has led Kenya's INS development since June 2019, with support from FSC Africa where required.
Soil Association kick-started the process with a review of current information on Kenya's forestry matters as well as current developments in the FSC certification system. The CB also engaged various subject matter specialists and conducted two stakeholder consultations and feedback sessions, in a bid to amass rightful information for drafting the INS that suits Kenya's local context. At the end of March 2020, Soil Association submitted the final INS draft to FSC for approval.
Regardless of delays and other challenges due to COVID-19, PSU is working hard to have the INS final draft on schedule for review. We are very optimistic that its approval can still be in this quarter 2, 2020, noted, Annah Agasha, the FSC East Africa Coordinator.
Kenya, as a country, has a mature forest plantation industry. It is also East Africa's 'business hub', with key corporate players in the pulp, paper, print and packaging, furniture and construction industries, whose procurement policies could create local demand for responsibly-sourced/certified wood products. To-date, some seven businesses have acquired the FSC Chain of Custody certification; thus, they play a vital role in responsible sourcing and manufacturing of wood-based products. Forest owners and Managers in Kenya are optimistic that the INS will enhance adoption of FSC certification. By adopting FSC certification, the government, forestry business and associations including those with a growing smallholder base for wood and bamboo value chains could tap into the ever-increasing demand for responsible wood and related products both in Kenya and on the international market. Kenya's National Forest Programme (2020-2030) implementation could also use the INS once in place, towards achieving one of its strategic objective-to enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits.
Once approved and operational, Kenya's INS will enhance uptake and growth of Forest Management certification. It will also provide a launchpad for our next step to develop the full National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) for Kenya said Mr Erick Ogallo, the Chairperson of the Forest Certification Awareness Group (FCAG), a group of foresters working together to create popularity of the importance of forest certification in Kenya.
Kenya will be the fourth country in East Africa to have an FSC standard (once its Interim National Standard is finalized). Rwanda's Interim National Standard (INS) was approved and is operational since 2017. Uganda and Tanzania's National Forest Stewardship Standards (NFSS) are operational since 2018. These standards are the basis for countries, regions or sub-regions to implement responsible forest management using the FSC certification system.