WITH reference to the article titled Rewriting the rules (Ecowatch, Nov 1), the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) would like to set the record straight with regards to the MTCC-FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) co-operation during the initial phase of its operations in 1999.
1. The main aims of the co-operation were the development of a forest management certification standard for the scheme operated by the MTCC (now known as the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme or MTCS), that could be recognised and endorsed by the FSC.
2. These two objectives were later found to be not achievable due to the following reasons:
i) The lack of “fit” between the institutional arrangements of the MTCS and the FSC scheme as MTCC was established to be a governing body while the FSC set-up required MTCC to be a certification body, which would need to become accredited to the FSC.
ii) FSC operates using three main stakeholder groups or “chambers” (social, environment and economic), while in the Malaysian context of forest management, some of the stakeholders felt that there was a need for a fourth group to cater for the forest managers, who manage the publicly-owned forests in Malaysia, and cannot fit in neatly with the other three stakeholder groups.
3. The work of the multi-stakeholder National Steering Committee (NSC), formed as part of the co-operation efforts, nevertheless led to the formulation of two forest management certification standards, the MC&I (2002) for natural forests and MC&I for forest plantations, which were subsequently adopted to be used under the MTCS.
It is important to note that the principles and criteria contained in the MC&I (2002) are exactly the same as the FSC principles and criteria, while the principles and criteria in the MC&I (Forest Plantations) are to a large extent the same as those of the FSC, but incorporate some changes, taking into account the local conditions in Malaysia.
4. It was in fact the work put in by the NSC, in which MTCC served as the secretariat, which laid the groundwork for a renewed effort to formulate a FSC forest management standard for Malaysia. The present activities of Forest Sustainability Malaysia, as reported in the article, can be traced to these early efforts under the NSC.
5. The lack of fit between MTCC and FSC led MTCC to become a member of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) in 2002. In May 2009, the MTCS became an endorsed scheme under the PEFC.
6. MTCC has been able to achieve this because under the PEFC, it can play its intended role as the national governing body. The independent certification bodies which conduct audits and make the decision to award certificates to the applicants are mainly locally based companies, while accreditation within Malaysia is carried out by our national accreditation body, the Department of Standards Malaysia.
Chew Lye Teng
MTCC chief executive officer