Forest Day, Pefc: 1 million hectares managed sustainably in Italy

The new Annual Report of Pefc Italy

The sustainably managed forest area in Italy continues to increase: in 2022 it went from 892,609.63 hectares in 2021 to 925,609.96 (of which 8,554.55 of poplar groves and 54.91 of plantations) with an increase of 33,000 hectares, equal to 3.7% more. There are 14 regions that have at least one certified forest, with Trentino Alto Adige confirming the largest area. It is the data that emerges from the new Annual Report of Pefc Italia, body promoting the certification of good forest managementpresented on the occasion of the International Day of Forests (March 21) dedicated this year to the theme ‘Forests and Health’, with a focus therefore on Ecosystem Services (climate, CO2 absorption, tourism in the natural environment and well-being).

“The increase in energy costs and the supply difficulties due first to the pandemic and then to the war in Ukraine, have created attention to the natural forest environment and to the natural wood product: certification in Italy is growing, demonstrating the interest also by companies to choose to give guarantees on material of forest origin – explains Francesco Dellagiacoma, president of Pefc Italy – Furthermore, despite the suspension of imports from Russia and Belarus which took place in the last year (there are 30 million hectares certified Pefc in Russia and Belarus which cannot currently supply certified material because it has been declared war timber and therefore a ‘controversial source’), the Pefc system is confirmed as the standard with the largest certified forest area in the world. Forests, with the absorption of CO2 are a strategy against climate change; but formed by plants that live well over 100 years, they are also at risk from climate change: in the Alps, a few million plants were killed by the bark beetle, a small beetle that attacks the spruce debilitated following Vaia”.

THE MOST CERTIFIED REGIONS – At a territorial level, Trentino Alto-Adige is therefore confirmed as the leader for the largest certified forest area with 556,147.9 hectares, considering those managed by the Bauernbund – Agricultural Union of Bolzano, the areas managed by the Consortium of Trentino Municipalities and by the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme in the province of Trento. In second place is Friuli Venezia Giulia, with 95,163.98 hectares, most of which managed by Uncem Fvg, while Veneto is in third place with 76,294.005 hectares. Among the growing regions, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany stand out.

THE CERTIFIED COMPANIES – As regards the Chain of Custody certification, it was obtained by 104 new companies (46% of which entered group certifications), marking a net +3.4%: therefore we pass from the 1,278 companies certified CoC of 2021 to 1,327 of 2022. Increases were recorded in all production categories, but in particular Pefc Italia reports the results of packaging paper (19 companies with an increase of 41.3%), pallets (19 companies, +27.5%), wooden packaging (19 companies, +21.6%), followed by printing and graphic industries, laminates and panels.

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES – Following the publication of the Pefc Ecosystem Services Standard in 2021, the demand for ecosystem services is also growing, including tourism, biodiversity and above all carbon capture, valorised in certified forests and plantations. Ecosystem Services can be defined as the multiple benefits provided by ecosystems to humankind, starting from the ability to absorb CO2, contrasting climate change but also hydrogeological risk, the protection of biodiversity and the ability to carry out tourist-recreational functions. Thanks to this certification, forest managers can enhance, guarantee and further communicate these additional benefits increased by the active management of forest resources as well as open up to the Sustainability Credits market. “We are registering great willingness from lenders to support the sustainable management of PEFC certified forests, giving greater value to certified sustainability credits, which are receiving excellent feedback on the Italian voluntary market”, underlines Antonio Brunori, general secretary of PEFC Italy.