Land Managers Expect the Benefits of Forest Certification to Increase

Family Forests Alliance Releases Results of Forest Certification Research


(New Gloucester, Maine) – A recent survey of FSC certified forestry operations found that most believe the financial benefits of certification with stay the same or increase over the next five years.


Conducted by the FSC Family Forests Alliance, the research invited feedback from FSC Forest Management (FM) Certificate holders in the United States regarding their experiences and the perceived costs and benefits of FSC certification. There are 114 FSC certified forestry operations in the United States. The questionnaire also increases the understanding of group certification experiences and trends.


“Group certification has been around since the early-1990s and it is important to evaluate progress and understand where there are opportunities for improvement and growth,” says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners, Inc.


Half of the group certificates reported increases in membership in the past 12 months. About three-quarters of the groups provide both marketing and management planning services to their members and are generally satisfied with the services they are currently able to provide. More than 80% of the responding groups indicated an interest in the development of tools and resources related to “carbon offset aggregation project development”.


“We see evidence of growth opportunities for family forest certification in the U.S, and building connections with carbon markets could be a key strategy for realizing these opportunities,” says John Gunn, senior scientist at Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.


But the research also identified some challenges.  Nearly 90% of the groups reported challenges with the “lack of markets for certified products”, while 72% also reported “high audit costs” as a challenge.  While respondents recognize indicators that benefits of FSC certification are likely to increase, 75% of respondents claim that, currently, certification costs are still greatly exceeding benefits.


“Clearly, marketing and realizing economic benefits remain top priorities for certificate holders,” says Katherine Albert Read, Secretariat for the Alliance and Director of Harvest Certification for the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands.


Respondents to the survey also indicated that the most recognized benefits of certification are the new marketing opportunities.


“Forest management certificate holders are most interested in services related to marketing and they see an important role for FSC in the marketing and promotion of certified products,” concluded Albert Read.


To view the research report summary, visit the FSC Family Forests Alliance website:

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FFASurveyResultsReport1009.pdf 1.03 MB