Invitation to participate in the development of the South African Forestry Assurance Scheme

July 17, 2017

Small-scale growers in Ozwathini … the development of a National Certification Scheme that is appropriate for their timber businesses will assist them to improve their management practices and secure market access.

Invitation to forestry stakeholders to comment on the scope and process of developing the South African Forestry Assurance Scheme Standard, and/or to join the Standard Development Working Group.

South Africa is developing a South African National Forestry Certification standard as part of the South African Forestry Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) which will seek endorsement by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

The objective is to have a National Certification Scheme that is based on the DAFF Principles Criteria and Indicators for sustainable forest management that is appropriate for all scales of forestry operations. The goal is for forestry certification to be a tool for improving forest management and facilitate access to markets that require certification. Currently about 80% of South African plantations are certified under the FSC system but very few of these plantations are on private farms or in communal areas. As the demand for certified products increases, both abroad and locally, certification could become a trade barrier to smaller management units. This is a concern for the entire timber industry as most timber growers supply common markets. In addition, South Africa’s land reform programme is likely to result in a greater proportion of the plantation estate being managed by smaller scale timber growers. It was felt that a National Standard that is more sensitive to the needs of the smaller scale forestry operations is needed.

The standard forms part of the policies and standards of SAFAS which is administered by a National Governing Body (NGB) which is a member of the PEFC. The scheme will allow forestry operations of all scales that comply with the standards and scheme’s requirements to be certified under SAFAS and once endorsed by the PEFC be recognized as certified by the PEFC.

The Environmental Committee of Forestry South Africa (FSA) tasked a Steering Committee to develop a certification system that could be endorsed by the PEFC. This Committee suggested using the National PCI&S Framework as a basis for developing an auditable standard.

The National Forest Act of 1998 binds forestry operations to principles of sustainable forest management and promotes the development of a system of Principles, Criteria, Indicators and Standards (PCI&S) for sustainable forest management. The current set of PCI&S is the result of an intensive review process of the second edition of the manual (2007).

The steps that are being followed to develop the certification system include:
• Establishment of a National Governing Body (NGB) responsible for the governance and administration of the system. This body will include broad stakeholder interests and will oversee the system. (Figure 1 below). The NGB will apply to become a member of the PEFC.
• Formal approval from government for the use of the National PCI&S Framework for the purpose of developing the standard.
• Gazetting of the PCI&S Framework for public use.
• Development of an auditable standard using PCI&S Framework as a template.
• Development of certification, accreditation and chain of custody procedures.
• Development of Group Certification Procedures that will enable Smallholders to achieve certification (risk based certification of landscapes).

The complete standard setting process is outlined in the draft Standard Setting Procedures, which can be downloaded HERE.

Figure 1: Organizational structure of proposed new certification system


Review of PCIS including full public participation process. Done2016
Stakeholder mappingDone2016
Expert Working group develop the Draft 1 of SAFAS Standard from the PCISDoneJun-17
Call for participation in SAFAS Working Group.14-07-17
Announcement of participants in working group28-07-17
Working group produces Draft 2 of SAFAS FM standard31-07-17
Made draft standard publicly available and announce the start of 60 day comment process 31-07-17
Completion of stakeholder comment period.28-09-17
Comments included Draft 3 produced and endorsed by Working Group30-09-17
Pilot testing of Standards and Draft 4 endorsed by Working Group6-10-17
SAFAS GA approval and Submit completed SAFAS system to PEFC 9-10-17
Interim report from PEFC standard reviewer10-12-17
Correct system documentation according to reviewer recommendations20-12-17
Send SAFAS system to SANAS and begin trial of SAFAS system6-01-18
PEFC decision on endorsement of system1-11-18

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the scope and process of developing the SAFAS Standard as described above and can find the draft Standard Setting Procedures HERE. Any organizations that would like join the standard development working group can nominate representatives by sending a request to Craig Norris. Comments and nominations must be received by Monday the 28th July 2017. Contact details can be found below.

The nominations for the working group will be accepted or refused based on the requirements for balanced representation of the existing technical working group. The working group must be prepared to review the Drafts of the Standard and provide technical input into the standard. This may be done working group meetings which may be physical, using web conferencing tools or via e-mail circulation. This is a voluntary process and SAFAS will not be able to cover the costs of working group members except in the case of disadvantaged member of the working group. Such applications will be evaluated if and when the need arises.

Stakeholders can access the Draft SAFAS Forest Management Standard from the 31st of July 2017. Stakeholders have 60 days to comment on the standard. The closure of the comment period will be the 28th of September 2017.

The start of the comment period will be publically announced.

Please state comments in writing by clearly referencing the number of the requirement you wish to comment on. You may also make general comments as you wish. These comments can be made on e-mail or a separate document.

Comments to be submitted to the Chairman of the SAFAS Council, Craig Norris via e-mail to

Alternatively they can be faxed to (033) 897 8502 or posted to NCT P O Box 1445 Pietermaritzburg 3200 South Africa

For any queries, Craig Norris can be contacted via telephone on (033) 345 8529.





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