At the change of the year, Mount Mainalon in the Peloponnese received a certification of good forest management, an event which is expected to help conserve the forest’s biodiversity, productivity and regenerative ability. The forests of Mt Mainalon – 23,000 hectares of fir and 8,000 hectares of oak – are the first in Greece to receive such certification, out of a total of 157 million hectares in the world today. The forest certification program, begun in response to the degradation of tropical forests, was conceived of as a conservation tool to achieve better forest management. The first international forest certification body, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), was set up in 1993, setting forth the principles and standards to govern correct forest management – and thus ensure forests’ continued existence. In 1995, the first official certificate for sustainable forest management was awarded to Poland. In 1999, the Pan-European Forest Certification Council (PEFC) was set up. Today, some 50 percent of forests in Western Europe have been certified, together with 14.3 percent in Eastern Europe and 77.1 percent in North America. Big forest landowners and European and American corporations that own forestland in the Amazon have certified their tracts so as to ward off accusations of plundering forest wealth. Around the world, an estimated 5 percent of forest area has been certified. Forest products from such tracts bear a certificate of origin – but not of quality. That means that certified timber is not necessarily better than timber lacking certification but at least it comes from a forest that was properly logged. One of the major benefits to forest certification is curbing illegal logging. According to the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, 45 percent of timber is illegally logged, meaning, without a license. Since this country imports large quantities of timber from Bulgaria, many of those imports could quite possibly be the products of illegal logging. Productive forests in Greece, yielding wood and paper, account for about 14-15 percent of total land expanse and are composed chiefly of fir, black pine, oak and beech. The productive forest of Mt Mainalon was certified through the LIFE program, the first forested tract in Greece to do so. The Arcadia development company, the National Agricultural Research Foundation, the Vytina forestry service and Nikos Georgiadis, responsible for the World Wildlife Fund Hellas’s forest program, joined forces to implement the program. The FSC is responsible for logos and certification and the Vytina forestry service for adherence to its terms and principles.