A look back at the first PEFC Forest Forum

PEFC Week was held in Paris from 13 to 16 May, culminating in the very first PEFC Forest Forum. Here's a look back at the week, during which tropical forests, and in particular the Congo Basin, were at the heart of numerous discussions.


The week began with sessions dedicated to members: the PEFC's strategic directions and the various projects it has undertaken to adjust its standards in line with the new European requirements were presented. PEFC-certified forestry companies will soon be able to benefit from practical solutions to help them implement the EUDR.

At the beginning of the week, PEFC members from 17 different countries presented 19 projects on the beneficial impact of sustainable management on carbon sequestration.

The 30th PEFC General Assembly was held on Wednesday 15 May, which gave rise to productive discussions on the work and impact of certification in the future, the approval of the PEFC ST 1004 standard and the appointment of Gustavo Andres Zurita as a member of the PEFC International Board of Directors. PEFC also presented its 2023 Annual Review: 2023 was an important year for PEFC, with the launch of its PEFC 2030 Alliance strategy. PEFC also welcomed five new members and celebrated the approval of the first national Trees outside Forests systems.

PEFC plans to continue the development of a series of new standards, to make progress in complying with the EUDR and to further explore the mapping of carbon stocks and emissions. PEFC intends to intensify its work with several market sectors and to promote the value of forest certification.

Tropical areas were also at the heart of the discussions, in particular the Congo Basin, which has been defined as a priority.

The GA was followed by a special session entitled "Beyond regulations: delivering an impact on the ground", attended by Caroline Duhesme.


This session was organised around three main themes:

  • How can we balance the three pillars of forest sustainability with people's livelihoods on the ground?
  • How can we make greater efforts in producer countries to also contribute to the social aspects in the country?
  • What are our views on the form that future forest certification should take so that stakeholders, both private and public, can participate in and benefit from it?


In her presentation "Reconciling sustainability and livelihoods - A producer country perspective", Caroline Duhesme outlined the challenges and solutions for balancing the sustainability of tropical forests with the livelihoods of local communities. She highlighted the role of the ATIBT, which promotes sustainable forest management and supports tropical timber stakeholders. She pointed out that the PAFC Congo Basin certification system, covering Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, is operational, with over 2 million hectares certified. Following a presentation of the forest management context in the Congo Basin, based on the forest concession model, she gave examples of legal provisions in favour of local communities and indigenous peoples. Forest concessions, in partnership with local communities, play a key role in local development, respecting customary rights and providing essential social services.

Caroline also shared her vision of the future direction of forest certification. She stressed the importance of inclusive and sustainable local development, fully engaging indigenous peoples and local communities in the co-management of forest resources. She also highlighted revenue sharing from timber exploitation, support for non-timber forest products and agroforestry, and the development of payments for environmental services (PES). Caroline insisted on cooperation with the PEFC Alliance to promote social and environmental actions and support the marketing of PEFC-certified products. Finally, she stressed the need to anticipate the challenges facing the forestry sector, in particular by taking greater account of social aspects, improving the preservation of biodiversity and combating climate change.

Congratulations to PEFC on a quarter-century of unfailing leadership in forest preservation and the promotion of sustainable forest management. May your commitment to biodiversity and people continue to inspire decades of future success. Happy 25th anniversary, PEFC, and may your impact grow even stronger in the years ahead, started by tropical areas!