New Zealand forest growers and processors will have a new choice open to them this year for certifying the sustainability of their products.
A new industry body, the New Zealand Forest Certification Association, has just been accepted to represent New Zealand in the largest international programme for verifying forests are sustainably managed.
Association chair Dr Andrew McEwen said the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) had more than 260 million hectares of certified forests.
He said about half of the forests here were already certified under another scheme, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
But he said most of New Zealand's markets around the Pacific, including China the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Australia had recognised the PEFC scheme, so there were advantages in having both programmes available here.
"So having PEFC available as a certification scheme in New Zealand gives the forest companies another opportunity for the way to market their wood and wood products.
"Some companies are likely to go for dual certification and that keeps both their options open. They can go to markets that accept either of the systems, or they'll be able to go to a market that accepts one or the other," he said.
"Some companies may wish to get certified just for PEFC and some may prefer to stay with just FSC, but it gives another opportunity."
Dr McEwen said the next step was to get an endorsed certification scheme in place for PEFC, which he hoped would be available by the end of the year.