And also to explore the opportunity FSC certification represents for the country and the CIS region. The participants also developed a resolution addressed to the Ukrainian government calling for a reform of the national forest sector. The resolution includes the recommendation to use FSC forest management (FM) certification as best practice.

The forest sector in Ukraine is battling a number of serious issues which has already had detrimental consequences for the country’s forests. Climate change has brought about an increase in large forest fires which has in turn reduced the biological balance of forests. Simultaneously, pine plantations – which represent one third of the national forests area – have been hit hard by various pests. A main aggressor is the bark beetle, an insect responsible for killing millions of trees in North America alone, and which has now become a global cause for concern.

Additionally, Ukraine’s difficult socio-economic context contributes to these natural hazards. Due to the lack of political will and funds, the authorities cannot recruit or train forest workers or fire fighters. Consequently, the task of thinning plantations and natural forests is neglected, and trees do not get enough light, water, and space to keep growing. This leads to the reduced vitality of pine forests in particular. The lack of resources also makes it challenging to fight illegal activities in Ukrainian forests – such as the theft of timber and the mining of amber.

FSC Ukraine, together with the National Universities for Life Sciences (NULES), the State Forest Agency and the Society of Foresters of Ukraine, organized a conference to address these national – and regional – challenges. Researchers, forest authorities and experts met in Kiev to discuss the issues and some potential solutions. Participants considered certification – in particular FSC certification – as a great opportunity to improve the situation.

Ukrainian forest

FSC standards are based on the concept of adaptive sustainable forest management, which means that standards are adapted to the regional context and regularly reviewed to address new challenges. For instance, if summers become hotter and longer, tree species will need different amounts of water and at different times.

This adaptive sustainable forest management will need to be combined with clear rules to help find ways to reduce climate change impacts on forests and to manage forest resources wisely. FSC develops national versions of standards providing such rules. The standards are adapted to each national context while still adhering to our rigorous requirements (e.g. Principle 6 calls for forest managers to ‘avoid, repair, or mitigate negative impacts’).

External audits support measures taken by local government to help the forest sector. They ensure that local laws are enforced, which lightens the workload for forest police. Standard development and decisions around certified areas also requires stakeholder engagement. Stakeholders with conflicting interests must then sit together to address forest management weaknesses in their country and globally.

More than a third of Ukraine's forest cover - or 4 million hectares - is now FSC-certified. The scheme issued its first FM certificates in 2005. It continues to grow remarkably in the country, especially since 2014.

As a result, FSC was one of the key organizers and participants of the international research conference. A resolution, addressed to the Ukrainian government, was one of the outcomes of the event. It stated that the implementation of the FSC national standard for Ukraine would help facilitate the necessary steps to address ecological and social challenges in national forestry. The resolution also called for the Ukrainian authorities to encourage the spread of FSC sustainable forest management and the consumption of products made with FSC-certified wood.

You can read the resolution here.