Sappi achieves the first ever PEFC Forest Management certificate in South Africa

Sappi Limited, a global forest products leader, is proud to announce that its South African division has been awarded the first ever Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) forest management certificate in South Africa. This achievement indicates that Sappi Southern Africa’s forest management practices meet the requirements for sustainable forest management set out in the PEFC-endorsed standard for South Africa, SAFAS (Sustainable African Forest Assurance Scheme).  

Commenting on behalf of PEFC International, Ben Gunneberg, CEO & Secretary General said “This certificate is a landmark in South Africa. At a time when climate smart solutions are so needed, it’s imperative that we expand sustainable forest management practices in all regions of the world.  We are delighted that Sappi’s forests in South Africa have become PEFC-certified and look forward to welcoming further growth of PEFC certification in the country.”   

The certification will now enable Sappi to offer PEFC certified wood from its plantations in South Africa, giving further assurance to Sappi’s local and global customers that the wood raw material originates from responsibly managed forests. This is in addition to the longstanding certification that Sappi holds for its 394,000 hectares with the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™-N003159).  Sappi Southern Africa has also commenced the process to achieve PEFC Chain of Custody certification for its manufacturing sites, and thereafter all Sappi mills globally will be both FSC and PEFC (incl. SFI® in the United States) certified. 

“Sappi’s purpose is to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources to benefit people, communities and the planet”, commented Alex Thiel, Sappi Southern Africa Chief Executive Officer. “Credible, internationally recognised, robust forest certification systems like PEFC and FSC are fundamental to Sappi’s commitment to sustainability”, he said. 

According to Dr David Everard, Divisional Environmental Manager for Sappi Forests, “After all the intense work in collaborating on the development of the SAFAS system and now in implementing it, it’s rewarding to have this achievement for Sappi. But the potential of SAFAS in South Africa is that it incorporates cutting-edge, innovative and effective approaches to also make forest certification more accessible to South Africa’s small landowners. This has great promise for ensuring certification not only delivers social and environmental values, but also supports socio-economic and development priorities.” 

Commenting further on behalf of PEFC International, Ben Gunneberg, CEO & Secretary General said: “What makes PEFC-endorsed national forest certification systems, such as the PEFC endorsed SAFAS, so relevant and valuable is that they are locally developed and owned, and that they respect the country’s operational and cultural conditions. This is important because it ensures that the advantages of certification are accessible to all forest owners, with a particular emphasis on smallholders.” 


Read more about how this remarkable achievement was made possible, despite challenging conditions brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Click here

About Sappi

Sappi is a leading global provider of powerful everyday materials made from woodfibre-based renewable resources. Together with our partners, we are quickly moving toward a more circular economy.
As a diversified, innovative and trusted leader focused on sustainable processes and solutions, Sappi is powered by the expertise of more than 12,000 people worldwide; with headquarters in four key regions: South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. 
Our raw material offerings (such as dissolving pulp, wood pulp and biomaterials) and end-use products (packaging and specialities papers, graphic papers, casting and release papers and forestry products) are manufactured from woodfibre sourced from sustainably managed plantations, in production facilities powered with bio-energy from steam and existing waste streams. Many of our operations are energy self-sufficient.
Sappi will continue to build a thriving world by acting boldly to support the planet, people and prosperity. 

About PEFC 

PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, is a leading global alliance of national forest certification systems. As an international non-profit, non-governmental organization, they are dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification. They work throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote good practice in the forest and to ensure that forest-based products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. With over 320 million hectares of PEFC-certified forest, it is the largest forest certification system in the world. More than 20,000 companies that have obtained PEFC chain of custody certification, thereby demonstrating their commitment to responsible sourcing of certified products. 
PEFC cares for forests globally and locally, working to protect forests by promoting sustainable forest management through certification, meaning that everyone can benefit from the many products that forests provide now, while ensuring these forests will be around for generations to come.

About SAFAS 

The Environmental Committee of Forestry South Africa (FSA) tasked a Steering Committee to develop a certification system that could be endorsed by the PEFC. The National Forest Act of 1998 binds forestry operations to principles of sustainable forest management and promotes the development of a system of Principles, Criteria, Indicators and Standards (PCI&S) for sustainable forest management. This Committee suggested using the National PCI&S Framework as a basis for developing an auditable standard.

The SAFAS (Sustainable African Forest Assurance Scheme) project has been a collaboration between the SANBI – UNDP Biodiversity and Land-Use Project, Forestry South Africa, Sappi, NCT and TWK.  For more information

Issued by:

on behalf of Sappi Limited
Tel +27 (0)11 502 7477
Mobile +27 (0)66 473 7729
Bianca Nkomo 

For further information

Leena Hytönen
Global Certification Manager
Sappi Europe
Tel +32 2 6769709