Certification: plain and simple


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For one-stop shopping to find out the latest on forest certification, "Forest Certification: Pending Challenges for Tropical Timber" by Richard Eba’a Atyi and Markku Simula is as good as it gets. This new paper produced for the International Tropical Timber Organization provides up-to-date facts, figures, and analysis on the different certification schemes, the relations between them, and the impact they are having in the tropics.

By reading it, I learned that:

* In January 2002, the world had 109 million hectares of certified forests. That was twice what it had in 2001 and almost four times as much as in 1999.

* Some 2.8% of the world’s forests are certified. North America has 8.7% of its forest certified and Europe has 5.7% certified. The other regions have only about 0.5% of their forest certified. Only 8% of all certified forests are in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

* The Pan-European Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are the two main international certification schemes. PEFC only covers Europe. FSC, the Malaysian national certification scheme, and Kerhout are the main certification schemes operating in the tropics.

* Only 86 certificates for forest holdings larger than 50,000 hectares each account for more than 90% of the FSC certified area.

* FSC has only certified 284 forest holdings smaller than 50,000 hectares. As of 1999, FSC had only certified 29 communal or community forests. In contrast, PEFC and the American Tree Farm System scheme (ATFS) were specifically designed for smaller holdings and most of their certificates have gone to smaller holdings.

* Three certification companies – SGS, Rainforest Alliance/Smartwood, and SCS – have certified 88% of the forest area certified under the FSC.

* The United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and several states in the United States now have "green procurement policies", which increasingly favor certified products.

* The forests certified in the tropics tend to be those that were already relatively well managed. Nonetheless, certification seems to have encouraged better forest management planning, establishment of permanent sample plots, the use of reduced impact logging, more set-asides for conservation, and better documentation of forest practices.

These facts alone do not do justice to Eba’a Atyi and Simula’s great analysis. I only hope they catch your attention enough to order and read the entire paper.


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Further reading

To request free electronic copies of Eba’a Atyi and Sumula’s paper or to send comments or queries to the authors you can write Markku Simula at: mailto:MARKKU.SIMULA@INDUFOR.FI

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) established the Forest Policy Experts (CIFOR-POLEX) electronic listserver as a free service of in July 1997. Previous CIFOR-POLEX messages can be found at the CIFOR website: http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/