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Corporates keen on forest dept. export certification

Bosky Khanna, DH News Service, Bengaluru, Oct 11 2017, 1:53 IST

Corporates hankering for quality and human resource development certifications dished out by global and Indian certifying organizations so far, are now making a beeline for 'eco-friendly' ones.

While 'bag-a-green certificate' trend is gaining momentum among corporates, the hottest one presently, seems to be 'Sustainable Management of Forests Certificate (SMFC)' issued by the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF).

Though this certification is mandated for export companies dealing in forest produce, many domestic trade companies are also applying for it too.

So far, 12 Indian export and domestic trade firms have applied, Avani Kumar Verma, NCCF member and retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, told DH.

“Companies seeking certificates are keen on brand building and growing their markets. We have received applications from Channapatna Handicrafts and Toys Manufacturing Companies & Associations and Himalayan Drug Company are among them," Verma said.

"Infosys Foundation has sought that the Dandeli paper mills and other paper manufacturing industries submit the SMFC certificate copy before selling paper to them. Many other herbal and ayurvedic companies are also applying for the certificate,” he added.

According to Verma, the need for this certification arose when central government realised that a lot of forest produce like wood, medicinal plants, bamboo and other minor forest produce were being exploited from peripheries of forest areas.

Considering the clamour for herbal and ayurvedic products in the market, the central government is working on making SMFC mandatory for even domestic manufacturers and sellers.

The government decided to adopt the international model of certification and with Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, a German organisation under the programme for endorsement of forest certificates.

USA, Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and all European countries demand this certificate from Indian firms before making purchases.

A lot of wood is used in making Chennapatna toys, lacquare and handicrafts. Bamboo is required for making incense sticks, wood pulp for the paper industry and natural ingredients for beauty and medicinal products. Now with this certification, all extraction and usage will be regulated, Verma explained.

Though NCCF was conceptualised 20 years back, it was officially launched in 2015. It was formed by retired forest department and MoEF officials from across India. Forest departments of Karnataka, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are part of NCCF. 'Enhanced Proliferation Control Initiative (EPCI), commerce ministry, agriculture ministry, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education and sister organisations also are partners.

Forest Rating

As next step NCCF members are rating and certifying forest areas based on conservation, eco- tourism, agro- forestry, protected area management, afforestation, timber felling and sales, boundary demarcation and management plans. “On pilot basis, we studied Dandeli tiger reserve and its rating is not more than 60%. It lacks in bamboo revival, over crowding of area in guise of eco- tourism, afforestation and handling timber merchants association,” Verma added.

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