After Marie-Ève and her cousin, Andrew Jirat-Wasiutynski, inherited a forest in Czech Republic following a long forest restitution process, the duo started the company Lesy Novy Berstejn s.r.o. to manage their 1,800-hectare forest. The forest is now FSC certified.  

 

Marie-Ève grew up in Canada. She spent a lot of time in nature, but little did she know she would play a major role in forest conservation in another country, thousands of miles away.

A few years ago, Marie-Ève and her cousin, Andrew, found out that they had inherited a forest in Czech Republic. After completion of a long forest restitution process, the duo established their company Lesy Novy Berstejn s.r.o. in 2014, focusing on forest management and associated activities. The Novy Berstejn forest is located within the Kokořín - Mácha Region Protected Landscape Area. 

“The forest was originally owned by my great-grandmother. She left the country before the war in 1939. When the forest was finally restituted to my cousin and I, we decided to keep this beautiful family heritage,” she said.

In the early days, Marie-Ève learned everything from scratch – from forest management to its restrictions under the forestry policy and law in the Czech Republic. “I am still learning,” she said. Lesy Novy Berstejn s.r.o. also has two foresters maintaining the forest and harvesting it effectively.

“Environmental issues are critical. Forestry crises are closely related to climate change as it affects extreme weather such as drought and global warming. Nature and biodiversity, water and air are important for a thriving ecosystem. Therefore, we need to think about forest preservation to guarantee biodiversity conservation. Managing forests is the way forward,” she said.

“It was a great pleasure for us from NEPCon to work with local foresters in the preliminary and main audits. Compliance with the requirements of the National Forest Stewardship Standard for the Czech Republic is high here,” said NEPCon Czech Republic Country Manager, Michal Rezek.  

According to Michal, local foresters have made efforts to share their responsible forest management experiences with other relevant groups. As a result, forest enterprises in surrounding areas have shown interest in such efforts.

Besides Nový Berštejn forests, forests in Česká Lípa have been FSC certified this year and some other municipal forests in the vicinity are preparing for a similar move. 

“I'm really proud that my foresters have successfully passed the audit and we are now part of this certification scheme. In the long term, we should all think about how we treat not only with forests but also natural resources in general and how to manage them sparingly, as FSC requires certification in the case of forests. I'd love it if we could just become a little inspiration for everyone to think about the importance of nature around us and how we should behave towards it. I am always surprised when I speak with my acquaintances and find out that many of them do not know the FSC brand at all. I hope that changes soon. As consumers, we still have a lot to learn,” concluded Marie-Ève.

Auditor and forester in Czech forest

Prior to the establishment of Lesy Novy Berstejn, Marie-Ève worked with contractors in the eco-friendly construction industry to build LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) homes.

Marie-Ève learned about FSC during those periods as it is the only certification system that qualifies under the LEED green building rating system. She decided to apply for the FSC certification in July 2018.

Subsequently, auditors from NEPCon conducted a two-day preliminary audit in August last year. Following the preliminary audit, the foresters modified and improved their management practices to ensure compliance with the National Forest Stewardship Standard for the Czech Republic.

Three months later, the forest enterprise passed a two-day main certification audit. The forest is officially FSC-certified since February 2019. According to FSC, the total area of FSC-certified forests in the Czech Republic is 60,702 hectares – less than two-and-a-half per cent of the total Czech forests. 

Under these circumstances, the domestic market is paradoxically forced to import certified wood materials from abroad due to a lack of FSC raw materials in the country. 

“The granting of the FSC certificate confirmed the long-term responsible forest management at Lesy Nový Berštejn. The FSC certificate will help both Nový Berštejn forests and domestic markets,” said FSC Czech Republic Director, Tomáš Duda.