The Quality Council of India (QCI), the government body set up to promote quality, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the world’s global standard for responsible forest management, have signed an agreement, which is aimed at promoting responsible forest management in India.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the QCI and the FSC will also facilitate international trade in forest products.
TR Manoharan, FSC’s national representative in India, sees the MoU as a positive step forward. “Collaboration between QCI and FSC is a significant achievement and this will help to bring the benefits of FSC certification to the fast-growing Indian economy, people and the environment,” he said.
The agreement aims to support the development of FSC programmes in India by strengthening the credibility of independent third party auditing, providing technical support and training, and fostering the exchange of information between the two organisations.
Anil Jauhri, director of the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NACAB) and QCI representative, sees market demand for FSC products as an important driver of the partnership.
“We look forward to partnering with FSC to build capacity of Indian forestry and related industries to meet the stringent FSC standards and gain greater access to international market, where FSC certification is a market demand,” he said.
FSC director general Andre de Freitas sees India as a strategically important growth area for FSC: “With its fast-growing economy, large population, and biologically important forest ecosystems, India is a key market for FSC.
“We are delighted to be working with the Quality Council of India and are confident their involvement will bring greater transparency, fairness, an economic growth to forest certification in India.”
The rapid growth of FSC certification in India confirms the fact certification brings substantial market advantages.
In 2007, only four Chain of Custody FSC certificates were issued in India. Today, there are nearly 300.