Forest Certification: A Status Report

Lead Author: Kathryn Fernholz

Publish date: 03.23.2010

 

In September 2004, Dovetail Partners released the report “A Land Manager’s Guide to FSC & SFI: To Certify or Not To Certify, Is That a Question?” Over the past six years, this report has been directly downloaded thousands of times from the Dovetail website as well as being uploaded and made available through other organizations. At the time the report was released there was notable debate and confusion about the emerging world of forest certification. Since that time, forest certification has grown, in terms of the amount of certified land and companies participating in chain-of-custody and these trends have continued in recent years, despite economic challenges in the economy and within the homebuilding and forest sector specifically. However, certified wood has yet to achieve a critical mass in the marketplace. In fact, by some measures certification’s expansion in recent years has been driven primarily by the paper industry and the significant impacts thereby limited to this sector of the marketplace. Certification still needs to establish itself more broadly in the solid wood products marketplace. In the final analysis, it appears that the harmonization of chain-of-custody requirements for multiple certification systems could go a long way toward helping the overall market grow.

 

This report reviews the current status of forest certification programs, summarizes changes that have occurred over the past six years and speculates on what the future may bring in terms of opportunities and challenges. This report examines the North American context with some limited global references and with particular attention paid to programs of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Information is also provided regarding the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC).

 

Note: On June 21, 2010 the report was modified to acknowledge that PEFC prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in PEFC-labeled products.