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Push to make Swiss timber industry more eco-friendly

Over 70,000 hectares of Switzerland's forests will soon be producing eco-friendly timber. WWF/Christian Bäumle

Switzerland's timber industry has received a boost following an announcement by the World Wide Fund for Nature that 12 per cent of timber production would be labelled as "ecologically friendly" by the end of this year.

This content was published on July 10, 2000 - 17:29

Damian Oettli, the head of WWF-Switzerland's forest campaign, says the FSC-certification process is a strong boost to the Swiss forestry industry's competitiveness. "The label is an economic asset. It shows that forest owners are committed to environmentally and socially responsible forest management practices. This gives consumers the certainty that they're not contributing to the destruction of the world's forests."

The FSC is an independent organisation that gives official recognition to well-managed forests. Its emphasis is on protecting the environment and respecting human and labour rights. Oettli says to receive FSC approval at least ten per cent of a forest needs to be a protected area. Forest managers are only allowed to use trees native to the country and they have to meet stringent planning conditions.

Switzerland is one of the frontrunners among European countries aiming to convert its timber industry to FSC standards, and consumer demand for eco-friendly timber products is increasing rapidly.

The WWF expects over 40 per cent of timber harvested in Switzerland to carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label within five years.

Walter Staub, a spokesman for the country's largest retailer, Migros, says although prices for products carrying the eco-friendly label are high, this should change as more forests in Switzerland meet FSC standards.

Solothurn is the first canton in Switzerland in which all timber comes from forests with FSC approval. Cantons Aargau, Graubünden and Zurich also have a number of state-owned, community and private forests which have been newly certified.

More forests in cantons Geneva, Schaffhausen and Thurgau have applications for FSC approval pending and the WWF estimates that 70,000 hectares of forest will be producing FSC-certified timber by the end of the year.

swissinfo with agencies

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