Assessing the progress made: an evaluation of forest management certification in the tropics

dc.contributor.authorPeña-Claros, M.
dc.contributor.authorBlommerde, S.
dc.contributor.authorBongers, F.
dc.titleAssessing the progress made: an evaluation of forest management certification in the tropicsen
dcterms.abstractForest management certification is a market based conservation initiative that aims to promote the environmental appropriate, socially beneficial, and economical viable management of forests. Certification schemes are based on a set of Principles and Criteria dealing with legal, social, economical, and ecological aspects related to forest management and its chain of custody. This set of Principles and Criteria are used to evaluate the performance of forest management units (FMU) and to determine if the FMU should be certified or not.In this study we have analyzed the evaluation reports of 123 FMU managing natural tropical forests that are certified under the scheme of the Forest Stewardship Council. We have also followed through time the list of actions given by evaluators to a subset of FMU. These approaches allowed us to assess the impact of certification on forest management, to determine if issues raised in the list of actions are solved by the FMU through time, and to evaluate factors that influence the impact of forest management certification at the country and the tropical region level. Most certified forest area is in the Neotropics. The claim that most certified area is managed by large individual-owned FMU, and that certification is not really accessible to smallholders and local communities, is true based on certified area, but not true based on the number of certificates. We show that there is a learning process since forest certification was introduced, with less problems being found through time. Forest management certification improves the working standards of FMU in the tropics in all different aspects, as all three pillars of sustainability are included in the list of the most common problems found. Additionally it is likely that certification will have a large impact on the long-term sustainability of forest management mainly because FMU are requested to improve their monitoring system and to incorporate the results of the monitoring system into their management practices. Finally, public summaries include a wealth of information that can be better used for adjusting the certification schemes, for monitoring progress, and for extracting lessons learned that can then be applied elsewhere.en
dcterms.accessRightsOpen access
dcterms.bibliographicCitationPeña-Claros, M., Blommerde, S., Bongers, F., 2009. Assessing the progress made: an evaluation of forest management certification in the tropics, No. 95. WURen
dcterms.licenseCopyrighted; all rights reserveden
dcterms.publisherWageningen University and Research Center
dcterms.typeWorking Paper
fsc.evidenceCategoryFSC impact-related
fsc.focus.forestTypeNatural Forest
is.availability.fullTextFull text available
is.contributor.funderTypePrivate funds (NGOs, companies, VSS self-funded etc)
is.contributor.memberForest Stewardship Council
is.evaluation.collectionCAR analysis
is.evaluation.dataSourceIntergovernmental data (World Bank, UN, FAO data)
is.evaluation.notesStudy by Wageningen researchers. CAR analysis of all FMUs in tropical natural forests, looking into the issue of improved forest management and impact. "In the present study we use the CAR analysis to identify the major problems found at the FMU level throughout the tropics. As we alsocollected general information regarding each certified FMU (Table 1), wewere able to relate this information to the results of the CAR analysis. Inthat way we could identify general trends at two other scales than the FMUscale: at the country level and at the tropical region level. Consequently,we assessed if factors such as certified area, number of certified FMU inthe country, year of certification, product harvested, certificate holder, andforest type had an influence on the number and type of problems found atthe country and regional level."
is.evaluation.quotes"Our results indicate strongly that forest management certification improvesthe working standards of FMU in the tropics. The improvement can beseen in the fact that fewer problems are identified in FMU getting currentlycertified than when the certification movement started. This trend indicatesthat forest management is improving even before the FMU are gettingcertified. The improvements are even more evident at the level of individualFMU: their performance is evaluated with a higher score when they undergoa second recertification process. Additionally we found that about 98% of the problems raised are solved during the first five years of certification,while aspects that are permanently reviewed by the evaluation team are in82% of the cases dealt satisfactorily."
is.evaluation.quotes"Our results also indicate that certification is likely to have a large impact onthe long-term sustainability of forest management mainly because FMU arerequested to improve their monitoring system and to incorporate the resultsof the monitoring system into their management practices. The monitoringsystem should monitor among others forest productivity, impact ofharvesting on forest diversity, and changes in species composition. Themonitoring system is, however, also a substantial burden for the FMUbecause often managers are requested to carry out a series of researchactivities that are costly and for which they do not have the appropriatestaff and financial means. Consequently, forest management will certainlybenefit a lot from close partnerships between companies and researchorganisations because the latter can assist obtaining information requiredto guarantee sustainable yields of forest products (e.g., timber). Thecertification schemes should also more strongly incorporate new knowledgebeing generated by scientists."
is.evaluation.quotes"We found that of the issues that we were able to follow through time (82% of all issues raised) most of them were solved by the company (82% of permanent issues and 98% non-permanent issues) during the five annual audits after the main evaluation. We found also a decrease in number of issues raised from the first to the second main evaluation (Figure 7). Therefore, our results strongly support the assumption that issues raised in the CAR result in an improvement of forest management standards of certified FMU."
is.evaluation.quotes"Studies focusing at the FMU level have found that certificationhas resulted in the use of better management practices (Audl et al., 2008and references therein). On the other hand, researchers focusing at thelandscape level have argued that certification has not reduced the pressureon high conservation value forests and has not decreased the deforestationrates in tropical countries (e.g. Gullison, 2003)."
is.evaluation.quotes"This lack of on-the-ground studies maybe related to the fact that such studies are costly, labor intensive and timeconsuming. One way that researchers have used to circumvent the need forsuch studies is to assess the impact of certification using the informationavailable in the public summaries of the certification reports, mostspecifically the list of CAR given by the evaluation team to the FMU"
is.evaluation.quotes"The fact that the number of issues raised increased with area of the FMUindicates that larger FMU are faced with more challenges for obtainingcertification than smaller FMU, maybe because the evaluation team tendsto be stricter when certifying larger areas."
is.evidenceSubTypeOther resources - synthesis products
is.evidenceTypeBriefing or opinion
is.focus.productsForestry products
is.focus.sdgSDG 15 - Life on Land
is.focus.sdgSDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
is.focus.sustainIssueForests and other ecosystems
is.focus.sustainIssueRights of indigenous peoples and local communities
is.focus.sustainLensAudits and assurance
is.focus.sustainLensLandscape approaches
is.focus.sustainLensTransnational governance
is.focus.sustainOutcomeDeforestation and forest protection
is.focus.sustainOutcomeConflict resolution
is.focus.sustainOutcomeEcosystem quality
is.focus.systemElementMandE outcomes and impacts
is.focus.systemElementMandE performance monitoring
is.identifier.schemeNameForest Stewardship Council
is.identifier.schemeTypeVoluntary Sustainability Standards