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Research Report

Social impacts of the Forest Stewardship Council certification: An assessment in the Congo basin

Paolo Omar Cerutti
Guillaume Lescuyer
Raphael Tsanga
Sam Nziengui Kassa
Prisca Roseline Mapangou
Edouard Essiane Mendoula
Aimé Patrick Missamba-Lola
Robert Nasi
Paule Pamela Tabi Eckebil
Régis Yembe Yembe
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 74
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-3)

    Since the first half of the 1990s, forest certification has been promoted as a means to tackle global deforestation and forest degradation. It emerged as a market-based response to the failure of intergovernmental processes to establish a global compact on forests (Romero et al. 2013). The underlying logic is that the market should be able to reward companies producing timber according to rigorous, comprehensive and independently audited standards (Steering Committee 2012). To some scholars, forest certification is one of the most important developments in forest governance in the last couple of decades and an alternative to the failure of traditional,...

  2. (pp. 4-8)

    Social criteria and benefit-sharing mechanisms implemented by logging companies in the selected countries, are shaped by both the local social context and existing laws, whose theoretical aims are not very different from those of the FSC. All current forest laws in the countries of the Congo basin were influenced by the 1992 Rio Declaration principles of sustainable forest management, as is the FSC; and all countries have ratified the major relevant international conventions (such as those on labour and human rights), which are also reflected in the FSC standards.

    Yet differences remain in both implementation and control. For instance, Cameroon...

  3. (pp. 9-14)

    The authors paired noncertified and certified FMUs based on their own knowledge, trying to ensure that the only difference between the two was the presence or absence of certification. Considering the small number of certified FMUs and budgetary and logistical constraints (Glew et al. 2012), we maximized similarity between the certified and noncertified groups by selecting proxy variables that helped reduce observable biases and systematic differences. This design is not rigorous enough to establish causality, as would be the case in an experimental or quasi-experimental design with large samples and a more rigorous construction of the counterfactual (Caliendo and Kopeinig...

  4. (pp. 15-34)

    Results are described below for each measured variable or condition. Each FSC certificate for forest management is delivered to a FMU, and not to a company or a village. In this sense, references to a 'certified company' or a 'certified village' in the text below should be intended as a 'company with a certified FMU' or a 'village neighbouring or inside a certified FMU'.

    Conditions can broadly be divided into two categories: those that exist in the workplace (forest or the sawmill), such as the existence of clear written rules for the use of safety equipment, and those that exist...

  5. (pp. 35-50)

    Both quantitatively and qualitatively, major differences were found between the certified and noncertified FMUs in the study — as well as within the groups, in some variables more than in others, often with large spans between the best and the worst performers in noncertified FMUs. This is due to the fact that, in the non-certified group, there are companies which have already declared their willingness to become certified, for instance by already implementing a third-party audited chain-of-custody, and companies which do not yet have an officially approved management plan. Such differences in basic standards are not possible in the certified...

  6. (pp. 51-52)

    This study assessed the social performance of a set of FSC-certified FMUs and compared it with the performance of similar noncertified FMUs in Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon (the only three countries in the Congo basin that have FSC-certified FMUs). Results showed that the longer one company remained in one place, the deeper social relations with the neighbouring population became. This in itself is conducive to an environment in which there is less conflict between the local population and logging companies. However, it is usually only after companies decided to pursue certification that several practical social improvements...