Interim National Standard paves way for Kenya’s wood products to the international market

Thursday, October 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko. Photo/PD/Roy Lumbe

Kenya is set to launch the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Interim National Standard (INS) of Kenya, paving the way for the country’s wood-based products entering the global market.

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko will preside over the launch of the programme that is expected to guide management of forests at Karura forest block.

The Standard is broadly based on the 10 FSC Principles and Criteria and indicators for forest management, which include compliance with national laws, conserving areas with High Conservation Values, assessing environmental values and impacts, enhancing community relations, indigenous people’s rights, workers’ rights, and employment conditions, among others.

According to FSC Director, Dr Harrison Kojwang, the standard will be used by forest owners/managers to ensure compliance with the requirement for responsible forest management.

“This will confirm that a particular forest block or area is being managed in a manner that conserves biological diversity and benefits for the local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability,” he said ahead of today’s unveiling.

The standard will also be basis for businesses and consumers to identify, purchase and use wood and wood-based products from well-managed forests in Kenya.

Kojwang noted the initiative will streamline forest management and further allow players in the wood industry to easily access international markets.

He noted that due to the effects of climate change, some markets are sensitive and only buy sustainably sourced wood products.

“The certificate will make it easier for the international markets to easily accept our forest products, the Interim National Standard has instruments which are useful to counties, national governments and private sector to assess the sustainable level of forest management,” he added.

The launch comes at a time when demand for wood products is on the rise fuelled by growing middle class in the country.
Kenya is the fourth country in Eastern Africa to have an FSC standard for forest management. It was approved by FSC and became operational in May 2021.

In addition to enhancing responsible forest management, use of the standard will boost Kenya’s efforts in the fight against climate change, having prioritized forestry as key pillar, noted Annah Agasha FSC Eastern Africa Coordinator.

Forest owners and managers are optimistic the Standard will enhance adoption of FSC certification, which will create opportunities to tap into the ever-increasing demand for responsible wood and related products both in Kenya and on the international market.

At a meeting with FSC top leaders in 2020, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) struck a deal with FSC in a pilot program to certify Aberdares forest ecosystem and the Eburu forest to verify ecosystems services.

“We have developed an open approach to the current trends of global forest management practices which will put the country at the forefront in enhancing the value of forest resources, both goods and ecological services,” said Chief Conservator of Forest, Julius Kamau.

"This will demonstrate the value of sustainable management of forest resources to the strategic benefit of the country through international standards for certification, and enhance engagement with investors both locally and internationally to promote the sector, especially in agroforestry," noted Kamau, while citing the bamboo industry as an apparent beneficiary.

The Chief Conservator of Forests noted that through the certification avenue, the Kenya Forest Service would best demonstrate the value of sustainable forest conservation, management, and protection.

Certification will also highlight revenue streams through ecosystem services which would benefit conservation efforts in the country by reducing pressure on forest resources through logging that has been the notion all through on how revenue can be generated from forest resources.

The Launch event for the standard will bring together key stakeholders from key government institutions, bi-lateral and multilateral agencies, the Civil Society Organizations mainly, environmental and social NGOs, smallholder associations and Community Based Organizations (CBOs), conservation and climate change practitioners, certification awareness groups, the youths, and the business community, among others.

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