Impacts of FSC and PEFC Forest Certification in North and South America
We conducted surveys of firms that had received Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) forest management certification in the U.S. and Canada, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification in the United States, and American Tree Farm System (ATFS) in the United States, and interviewed a sample of firms in Argentina and Chile that had received Forest Stewardship Council or Certificación Forestal (CERTFOR). SFI, CERTFOR, and ATFS are endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) system; FSC has a unified world governance system. All firms improved many practices in forest management, environmental protection, community relations, public affairs, economic, and environmental management systems in order to receive certification, and most received several conditions or corrective action requests as well. On average, firms changed between 14 to 16 forestry, environmental, social, and economic and system practices in order to obtain or maintain forest certification for FSC and SFI in North America, and 26 practices in South America. Private landowners certified under the ATFS system made fewer changes, with 2.76 per certified owner. Organizations in North America that received SFI forest certification made more changes in economic and system components of their forest management practices—an average of 6.8 per organization for SFI vs. 3.9 for FSC. Organizations that received FSC forest certification made slightly more changes in forest management and environmental practices—6.8 vs. 5.9 for SFI, and more changes in social and community components—2.4 vs. 1.4 for SFI. ATFS owners made the most changes in forest management, best management practices (BMPs), and planning (1.96), followed by economic and system (0.77), and social and legal (0.04). The number of changes in South America depended more on the size of the firms than on the forest certification system, with the three large firms in Chile (both FSC and CERTFOR) making more changes than the much smaller firms in Argentina. The average of 26 changes made by firms in Argentina and Chile were distributed very evenly among environmental, social, and economic components of certification standards. Most organizations stated that they would definitely or probably maintain forest certification, with 90% of SFI, 84% of ATFS, and 69% of FSC in the U.S.A, and 90% of the firms surveyed in South America. A majority of firms in all systems and countries felt certification benefits exceeded their costs, and met the initial objectives of the organization. Firms in South America seemed more enthusiastic regarding the merits of certification, but much fewer are certified.