The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has launched a new campaign to raise industry awareness of the importance of sourcing materials from sustainably managed forests and outlined a roadmap to help brands and retailers ensure their businesses supports and benefits from sustainable forest management.

The aim of the ‘Fashions Change, Forests Stay‘ campaign is to highlight the value of sourcing natural forest fibres – such as viscose, acetate and lyocell – from sustainably managed forests to transform the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

The world’s largest forest certification organisation, PEFC is an international non-profit which works to support and encourage fashion brands and retailers to make responsible procurement choices, drawing on the sustainable management of forests around the world.

“Natural and renewable forest fibres have a huge potential to help the fashion industry on its sustainability journey, but must be sourced responsibly from a sustainable origin, proved via the PEFC chain of custody certification mechanism,” it says.

Created by small, family forest owners in 1999, the NGO has grown to become the world’s largest forest certification system with close to 75% of certified forest area globally certified to its standards in 2020.

It outlines the vital role that sustainable forest fibres play in helping fashion brands and retailers meet their commitments to tackling climate change in a new whitepaper.

Published today (21 October), the document highlights sustainable forest management as a climate change solution, explaining how the practice increases tree cover to help forests store more carbon and creates healthy soils that are more productive.

“It can also promote demand for timber products that continue to store carbon through their life, and maintain the forests by giving them a commercial value. Healthy forests are also more resilient to global warming because they are better able to cope with stress, recover from damage and adapt to change.”

The white paper also outlines a new PEFC Collaboration Roadmap, which details a series of steps fashion firms can take to support and benefit from sustainable forest management.

“It is no exaggeration to say the decisions and actions companies take now will have an impact on our planet,” the non-profit says, adding its five-step road map can help support forest sustainability goals and can also be aligned with other forest-related polices.

Five steps by 2025

  • Engage with PEFC to learn more about how sustainably managed forests store carbon, protect biodiversity, support rural communities and the fashion industry.
  • Develop a responsible sourcing policy for wood-based fibres and other wood-based materials – from clothing to packaging and point of sale.
  • Map your supply chain and collaborate to implement procedures that trace wood-based products back to origin to ensure they are sustainable.
  • Increase your sourcing of wood-based products from sustainably managed forests and recycled sources and set ambitious targets to achieve 100% sourcing from certified sustainably managed forests.
  • Collaborate with PEFC and our global network of over 750,000 forest owners, from the small to the large to meet your environmental goals through projects that protect and restore forests.

“By launching the ‘Fashions Change, Forests Stay’ campaign today, we’re hoping to spark a new conversation amongst the fashion industry on the role it can play in protecting the world’s forests – which is arguably our best climate change solution,” says Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC. 

We look forward to work with fashion brands and retailers and help them maximise their impact through sustainable forest management. Together, we can make a difference for the future of the fashion industry, our forests and the world.”