Suva, Fiji –Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited (FHCL) one of Fiji’s Government public enterprise under the Companies Act of 2015 has revived its longstanding ambition to attain Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC).
Attaining FSC forest management certification confirms that a forest is being managed in a way that protects biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
In line with the Fiji Government’s commitment to progress its sustainable development goals, FHCL has
committed itself to transform its operations into an environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable business model.
The Ministry of Forestry had initiated the process for certification in the mid 2000’s, however this ambition was not realized due to a number of local challenges faced by the company. Forest Management and
Certification has come again to the fore of its business priorities due to export market opportunities becoming more stringent with green product sourcing and verification.
“We haven’t realized the full potential of Fiji Mahogany because it is not yet certified for excellent forest management, all our mahogany is currently being exported to markets that are not giving Fiji the full value. Once we comply and are FSC certified, Fiji can have better access to the European, North American,
Australian and New Zealand markets,” Acting FHCL General Manager, Semi Dranibaka, said.
He added Fiji Hardwood exports its mahogany through the issuance of a certificate of legality.
“When we export mahogany to our markets, our buyers will see the certificate of legality, which certifies that it is from a legal source but once we attain FSC standard it opens us to more markets, he added.
As forest plantation management plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity of our watersheds, rivers
and reefs, applying certification will further enhance nature and ecosystem protection.
“Forest Certification is not an easy feat, it is a very costly exercise and we need investment in order to comply with the standard, Fiji Hardwood Corporation is at a level where we have the Mahogany Industry
Development Act 2010, we have a Harvesting Code, we have the relevant Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act under the Ministry of Labour where we issue safety measures for the people, all our industry
stakeholders are informed, registered and monitored, but we need to identify the gaps to try an bridge so that
it be compliant,” he added.
“Forest Certification encompasses all the processes and systems through environmental safeguards,
landowner issues, our social corporate responsibility and also economic viability on how we can provide high quality logs to be processes by our industries and exported.”
In an effort to help FHCL realize its ambitions for FSC, the company is currently supported through Fiji’s National GEF Reef to Ridge Project (R2R), managed by UNDP and implemented by the Ministry of Forestry with partners such as WWF.
WWF in collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Environment, through this project has initiated a week awareness and consultation workshop with critical FHCL stakeholders to pick up from where the company last left the certification process and define a roadmap to complete the process.
FHCL was established in 1998 as a State-owned Enterprise to manage the Government of Fiji's hardwood plantations. The first company in Fiji to achieve FSC was the Fiji Pine Limited in 2013, and FHCL aspires through its efforts with partners and stakeholders to be the second.
Original Publication: https://www.wwfpacific.org/?372557/FIJI-HARDWOOD-STRIVES-TO-ATTAIN-SUST…