KFCC for sustainable forest management
The author is minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS).
The total amount of the timber products consumed in Korea last year reached as much as 30 million cubic meters. If they were to be mounted on the flat ground, they should be approximately 1.7 kilometer long and wide and 10 meters high. Out of the 30 million cubic meters domestically used in 2018 which equals to the annual forest growth volume in Korea, 85% (25.5 million cubic meters) are logged elsewhere outside the country and then imported, with only about 15% (4.5 million cubic meters) supplied within Korea.
A diversity of functions performed by forests encompasses timber production, absorption of greenhouse gases, provision of recreational spaces, and flood prevention. In order to ensure the next generation fully benefits form these functions of forests, we should manage and utilize forests in a sustainable manner. In this regard, the Korea Forest Service (KFS) has strived to enhance the domestic timber production while ensuring sustainable forest management on our soil. KFS has also made dedicated efforts to import only lawfully harvested timber.
At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the forest certification schemes were discussed as an implementing instrument in accordance with the Rio Forest Principles adopted at the event for sustainable forest management. The forest certification systems concern accrediting management authorities to meet the standards set for sustainable forest management.
The forest certification systems used globally — and most commonly — are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The FSC, launched earlier than the PEFC, has been in operation since 1993 and approximately 200 million hectares of forests were certified to the FSC standards by the end of 2018.
On the other hand, PEFC endorses national forest certification systems developed and tailored to local priorities and conditions. Since its takeoff in 1999, around 320 million hectares of forests across over 40 countries have been accredited.
Korea has joined the move by introducing FSC schemes domestically in a pilot manner in 2006 and developed its own certification system through the Korea Forest Certification Council (KFCC). About 270,000 hectares of forests have been certified to KFCC standards by the end of 2018 starting from 2015. As a result, about 600,000 hectares of forests are expected to be certificated to the standards by the end of 2019.
Generally, negative views of logging prevail. The domestic demand for timber, however, has risen recently and timber has already grown to be indispensable part of our lives. Therefore, measures to meet social and economic needs for timber and to alleviate those dismissive views to logging should be taken.
This is where sustainable forest management must step in. The forests certified to KFCC for being managed in a sustainable way should keep expanding to the extent that they could fill up the 2.4 million hectares of the greenish land designated for timber production. KFS will take the lead in wisely utilizing timber while conserving forests in a sustainable and lawful manner.