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Research Report

An overview of current knowledge about the impacts of forest management certification: A proposed framework for its evaluation

Claudia Romero
Francis E. Putz
Manuel R. Guariguata
Erin O. Sills
Paolo O. Cerutti
Guillaume Lescuyer
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2013
Pages: 46
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-5)

    Forest management certification is a market-based mechanism to promote sustainable use of forest resources. It recognizes responsible management through independently verified compliance with a set of underlying principles, criteria and indicators that delineate the ecological, social, economic and policy impacts resulting from forest management for specific objectives. As such, a credible label of certification makes the positive externalities of proper forest management visible to the public (Roberts 2012). The emergence of certification in the late 1980s was motivated by failures of other efforts to halt deforestation and improve forest management. While the launch of the ‘Forest Principles’ at the United...

  2. (pp. 6-11)

    As stated above, the need for a critical evaluation of the empirical impacts of forest certification has gone unfulfilled to date. Such impacts include: changes in the forest itself and surrounding areas; at the level of neighboring local communities and workers; for participating FMUs; and, to local and influenced institutions attributable to FSC certification. Among the many possible reasons for the lack of a critical evaluation are: the assumption that certification is inherently environmentally, economically, politically and socially beneficial; the cost of such a study; the fact that in some regions (e.g., the Congo Basin) certification only recently became important...

  3. (pp. 12-19)

    As mentioned in the previous sections, evaluations of the impacts of certification need to consider differences among FMUs in biophysical, socio-economic and policy characteristics that affect how they are, and should be, managed. For example, forests vary in stocking of commercial species, terrain, accessibility, seasonality and underlying natural dynamics. Social aspects vary with the characteristics of communities living within the FMU’s area of influence and their relationships with it (e.g., employment possibilities and freedom of access), including the understanding of community residents about the FMU and its operations. Governance aspects that influence forest management include tenure types and rules governing...

  4. (pp. 20-26)

    This section describes information needed to inform discussions and negotiations related to the design of the evaluation of FSC certification impacts. Specific analyses of certain themes may shed light on critical components to inform that design; detailed information on these issues is presented. Results of these analyses are meant to provide a foundation for carrying out the evaluation.

    An evaluation of the impacts of forest certification should take into account that, even in the complete absence of this intervention, FMUs vary in the quality of their management. For example, some may employ practices that closely match certification requirements (e.g., employ...

  5. (pp. 27-27)

    Forest certification is a private, voluntary, market-driven instrument designed to promote responsible forest management. While many certification systems operate around the world, this paper focused on certification of natural forest management in the tropics by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC certified its first tropical forest in 1994 and has certified more than 100 other natural forest management units (FMUs) in the tropics since then. However, the often-claimed environmental and social benefits of certification remain to be empirically evaluated. After reviewing the literature on the impacts of certification, a foundation is laid here to develop an evaluation approach of...