Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first and currently, the only country in the region to have acquired the FSC standard, making it easier for BiH companies to get to the FSC certification and the access to international markets. This certification guarantees that the forests in a certain enterprise are managed in a transparent manner, in accordance with the key international regulations and domestic legislation, including a higher degree of nature protection.
This was announced today at a ceremony at the Holiday Hotel in Sarajevo, in the presence of representatives of relevant ministries and many experts from the forestry sector of both the Federation of BiH and the Republika Srpska.
“The working group for establishment of FSC Standard in BiH began its work in early 2016. Instead of the usual ten members, our group has 23. This is due to the FSC’s request according to which the members have to represent economic, social and scientific sectors. Since the administrative structure of BiH is additionally complex, we had to almost double the members,” saidPetra Remeta, WWF Adria conservation director, presenting a project to promote responsible forest management in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been running since 2012 within a partnership between the Scandinavian furniture company IKEA and WWF Sweden.
Following the successful certification of 56,000 ha of Tuzla Canton Forests and 121,000 ha of Central Bosnia Canton Forests, since 2015, in partnership with the Faculty of Forestry of the University of Sarajevo, WWF is conducting the process of developing FSC standards and raising awareness of the importance of the EU Timber Regulation, which includes both entities in BiH, as well as the Brcko District. This standard will enter into force in March next year, by which time all forestry companies in BiH should switch to using the new standard.
As BiH has its own standard now, the certification process becomes faster and cheaper, and it enables comparisons and analysis among companies. The application of the generic standard, which was the case so far, has been a more complex and time-consuming process. Other countries in the region, including EU member states Slovenia and Croatia, have not yet developed their national FSC standards.
“Certification of forest resource management in BiH will improve the environmental, social and economic performance of forest governance and management, as well as the competitive advantages of local forestry and timber companies. This is especially important for export-oriented businesses in BiH, which are being increasingly tightened in terms of timber origin in attractive EU markets,” explained Ph.D. Mersudin Avdibegovicfrom the Faculty of Forestry, University of Sarajevo, who implemented the project.
In addition to the aforementioned total of 177,000 ha of forests certified under this project, another 65,000 ha of forests in the Central Bosnia Canton is expected to be certified in early Spring.