Dovetail Partners has worked with family forest owners and diverse organizations throughout the world to increase opportunities for family forest certification and associated benefits. For more information or assistance with your certification initiative, contact us.
For decades, service providers have strived to deliver technical assistance and education programs to the diverse and large number of stakeholders included in the forestland ownership category - family forests. Recent developments in certification have exemplified the difficulties of these efforts, and as forest certification has grown, the challenges encountered in trying to apply certification to small-scale properties have been a constant reminder that forest management programs cannot be effectively applied in a one size-fits-all fashion.
In the United States today, there are two programs most commonly utilized in the certification of family forestlands. The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) was created in 1941 and has been modified in recent years to address the current trends and expectations of market-driven certification systems. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was formed in 1993 and made special accommodations to address small property certification early in its development, but has only recently developed a specific program focused on the needs of family forests. Although the ATFS and the FSC are the two programs more commonly used to certify family forests in North America, several other approaches, including Green Tag, Master Logger Certification, and even limited auditing as outlined in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and FSC procurement policies, are available to family forest owners interested in participating in the certified product marketplace.
Over the past four years, significant effort has been made to pilot family forest certification in the United States. The American Tree Farm System and the Forest Stewardship Council have continued their efforts to improve access to their programs and the resulting benefits of participation. The growth of family forest certification in the United States has been significant at a regional scale with a growing number of scattered examples of state-level leadership. However, despite these efforts, the total amount of certified family-owned forestland in the United States has not risen significantly. Further innovation and more widely shared commitment are needed if family forest certification is going to succeed at a broader national scale and be able to provide benefits to the forest sector. The bottom line is that for family forest certification to succeed in the United States it must become a shared objective of the many partners that provide outreach and technical assistance to woodland owners and that use the wood flowing from these lands.
Dovetail Partners is a member of the FSC Family Forests Alliance, a national mechanism for bringing together individuals and organizations committed to promoting responsible forest stewardship through FSC standards.