In the last twenty years, forest problems worldwide have been mounting. Forested lands and their quality have declined, especially in the tropics and boreal areas. Stakeholders clash over increasingly scarce goods and services that forests provide. It is generally acknowledged that policy, market and institutional failures are the basic causes. Certification has been identified as a key market-based initiative to improve forest management worldwide.
Forest certification is a tool used to verify that on-ground management of forests meets defined standards. Certification of forest management to performance standards is a recognised procedure based on an independent assessment of the quality of a forest managed according to a set of predetermined requirements. The processes involve consultation of various stakeholders - namely the economic, environmental and social groups. It leads to the issuance of a certificate and may be accompanied by an agreement to use a new label on traded forest products.
Forest certification has the twin objectives of:
- working as a market incentive to improve forest management
- improving market access and share for the products of such management.
There are two components in forest certification:
- Certification of forest management or forest auditing
On the ground inspections of how forests are managed are evaluated against a certification standard of which documents such as management plans and resource inventories are reviewed. Certification can potentially be carried out at different levels – forest management unit (FMU), forest owner, region or country. Existing certification programmes work at the level of the FMU.
- Product Certification
For certification to influence a consumer’s purchasing choice, the certifying process must be able to follow an item throughout its entire production process - from forest to shop floor. Certification therefore applies to a whole ‘chain-of-custody’ involving log transport and processing until it reaches the end consumer.
For more information on FSC Principles and Criteria, please click here