By Sarah Day

The session provided insights into how FSC can better influence government policies concerning crucial issues to the FSC system, such as the role of forests in addressing climate change, illegal logging, and deforestation.  

Dr. Suresh Gairola, Country Director of FSC India, gave a presentation on recent efforts to strengthen government engagement. He introduced some of the diverse challenges in gaining government support for forest certification in India, noting that there is no clear policy or guidelines from national or state governments and a general lack of awareness and understanding of FSC certification.      

Dr. Gairola also highlighted some of FSC India's recent achievements, noting that “this year, in June 2022, we [FSC India] have come up with India’s first National Forest Stewardship Standard and, importantly, this document was released by our Honourable Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change. This has given a very important message to other departments in the union government, that now there is support for FSC forest certification.” 

FSC China, Overseas Program Director Karen Xue discussed the adaptive approach the Chinese office is taking to enhance government engagement in China. Karen highlighted that “it is important for FSC to be seen as a reliable partner of CFCC (China Forest Certificate Council).”   

Hartono Prabowo, Country Manager of FSC Indonesia, explored a ‘common strategy of sustainability’ to forging alliances with the Indonesian government. Throughout his presentation, Hartono explained potential alignments and joint programs to enhance government engagement. This included improved forest management practices, using forestry as a multi-business that incorporates carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, value chain development and non-timber forest products. He also highlighted common goals of responsible forest management and business benefits between the Indonesian government and FSC.    

The final presentation was delivered by FSC Australia and New Zealand’s (FSC ANZ) Interim CEO, Patricia Fitzsimons. Patricia revealed the complexity of engaging and building relationships with governments in Australia and explored the work FSC ANZ has already undertaken in this space. Given the recent change in Australia’s federal government, FSC ANZ has an opportunity to respond to its agenda to create a national biodiversity market and address climate change through a legislated emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030.  

Recently, FSC ANZ has been exploring an opportunity to work with the Northern Territory Government and an Indigenous community to roll out FSC forest management certification through the Continuous Improvement Process accompanied by the implementation of the Ecosystem Services Procedure to enhance outcomes further. 

FSC ANZ has also been exploring an opportunity to work with Traditional Owners in East Arnhem Land and Northern Territory Government on ecosystem services  through the Continuous Improvement Process. By doing so, FSC ANZ is supporting the Federal Government to deliver on its goals and achieve significant positive outcomes for Indigenous Communities in Northern Australia. Ongoing dialogue with governments at all levels are required to achieve advocacy for this project and the role of responsible forest management in the tropical north.