More than 55,000 hectares of Estonian forests now PEFC-certified under group certification covering 44 forest owners, represents first-ever PEFC forest management certificate to be issued in Estonia

GENEVA, Switzerland , March 29, 2010 (press release) – More than 55.000 hectares of forests have been certified as being in compliance with PEFC's Sustainability Benchmark, the Estonian Forest Certification Council announced earlier this month.

"This group certification covers 44 forest owners and represents the first-ever PEFC forest management certificate to be issued in Estonia", said Mart Kelk, Secretary-General of the Estonian Forest Certification Council. "This achievement demonstrates responsible practices by Estonian forest owners, while at the same time offering potential economic benefits."

"The wood industry is one of the largest industries in Estonia, providing employment for about 16.000 people," continued Mr. Kelk. "With two-thirds of the total timber production exported, PEFC certification is essential as it provides access to global markets for certified timber."

The awarding of the certification marks the successful completion of a pilot project, which started in early 2009 to pioneer PEFC certification in Estonia.

"We have already received indication of further interest by Estonian forest owners to become PEFC-certified and hope to rapidly increase the area of forests in Estonia certified as sustainably managed", emphasized Mr. Kelk.

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