Early June this year, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) celebrated its first certificates for Indonesian forest managers, released by its certification body PT AJA Sertifikasi Indonesia (AJA). With this announcement came the (inevitable?) gossip about AJA, its employees and its clients. One issue in particular echoed amongst experts: how did AJA manage to verify some 610,000 hectares, an area the size of Palestine, against a brand-new standard in little over half a year?
Mid August, WWF International voiced this issue through an Open Letter to the Indonesian Forestry Certification Cooperation (IFCC, PEFC’s International Stakeholder Member in Indonesia). In its letter, WWF notes that ‘the IFCC certificates could be “jumping the gun” on a journey towards sustainability that has only just begun. It would be a missed opportunity if the IFCC system lacks the rigour and standards to reliably verify how companies are progressing in the implementation of sustainability commitments’. WWF furthermore questioned ‘the rigour of assessment of plantation management practices under the IFCC system’. Continue reading