On November 14, 2018, the State Duma Committee on Natural Resources, Ownership and Land Relations, chaired by Nikolay Nikolayev, held a round table «On voluntary certification in the forest industry: main goals and principles».

Representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the forest industry, science, public organizations and international environmental organizations took part in the round table.

Speaking at the meeting, Nikolaev said that «until Russia has its own forest certification system established in Russia, the work of domestic timber merchants working under the eye of international certification systems can be suspended at any time».

The parliamentarian recalled that this year in five regions of our country, under the auspices of the State Duma, the National Forest Forum was held, which received many requests from domestic loggers and manufacturers of wood products. «All of them described problems caused by dependence on international forest certification systems. The same question was heard at the parliamentary hearings on the prospects for legislative regulation of the multi-purpose use of forest resources», — said Nikolayev.

Currently, the products of Russian forestry enterprises are certified according to the principles of foreign Pan-European Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). «Not only loggers or wood processors are certified, but also, for example, printing houses, i.e. the entire supply chain organization is under the eye of international certification systems, and in order to disrupt their systematic work, it is not necessary that they violate the law, it’s enough the decisions of the certification body», — the head of the Duma committee said.

Nikolayev warned that «certification bodies, and they are mostly foreign, can, by their decision, stop the stable activity of the industry under any pretext of non-compliance with the standards».

«Ecological requirements are imposed on our wood and products from it, and require certificates in other markets, and we, for our part, do not demand anything, although the basis for 'green procurement' is laid in state strategic documents», — the deputy added.

He stressed that «it is necessary to develop its own certification system». «It is necessary to exclude the influence of unpredictable factors from the side of foreign certifying organizations. We are talking about creating our own system of voluntary forest certification, which would not be inferior in terms of the requirements of international certification systems, consistent with them, and of course over the recognition of such a system both in the world and that the buyer of the domestic market was also interested in choosing certified by Russian product requirements», — said Nikolaev.

The position of the Chairman of the State Duma Committee is shared by the representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. According to the deputy director of the Department of Light Industry and Timber Industry Complex of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Vera Khmyrova, «the creation of forest certification is even more a question of the national security of the Russian Federation and its forest industry».

«The development of our national forest certification system is important for us. We sell products to all markets, timber companies operate within the framework of Russian legislation, all timber merchants strive to meet all high environmental standards and requirements of forest legislation», — she said.

«Our position - we fully support you in this and are ready to defend the issue of forming our forest certification system, and then its promotion to world markets and the formation of a policy of adopting our forest certification there», — said a representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Andrei Gribennikov, Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation in the Field of Forest Resources and Hunting Industry of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, noted that today there is a situation in which «the state invests in business, but the business limits itself by the demands of foreign organizations without involving the resource that the country said is «involve» and expects products to appear, value added».

«While weighing all this, we come to the conclusion that we need to really create a certification system, we need to define the criteria as some kind of national forest heritage. Nikolai Petrovich, we are ready to work on creating and participating in all working groups on this issue», — said Gribennikov, addressing the head of the Duma committee.

Ivan Sukhorukov, Vice-President of the National Association of Timber Industry «Russian Forest», said that «we need to properly and properly apply the standards that we have». He said that at present, «following the lead of international certification systems, Russian companies are forced to decommission millions of hectares and cubic meters of forest».

«In fact, domestic companies are becoming hostages of such certification systems. And often these requirements are not justified. If we convert them into money, these are huge numbers that timber merchants do not get, and as a result, the budget of the Russian Federation», — stated Sukhorukov.

«As a result, after the next audit by environmental organizations, the standards of which Russian companies are forced to adjust, and without passing their commission with their standards, we automatically receive the company’s non-compliant stamp, and we have a negative image that applies to the industry in general, although we know that the requirements are sometimes formal and have nothing to do with the legislation of the Russian Federation», — he said. Thus, «timber merchants find themselves in the ring of financial dependence on their Western colleagues and their opinions about our work in the field».

Following the results of the round table, a proposal will be sent to the organizing committee of the National Forest Forum on the formation of a platform for the development of key proposals, including legislative ones, on the establishment of a national forest certification system. A similar working group with the participation of representatives of government, business and public organizations will also be assembled on the basis of the State Duma Committee on Natural Resources, Property and Land Relations.