Forest Certification - Sustainability, Governance and Risk

This report analyses and assesses forest certification schemes with particular focus on the two dominant systems - the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Forest Certification has become a key issue in the flux over sustainability in the forestry, timber and paper industries. Like most certification systems, it is complex. It is more complex than it needs to be because of the political purposes to which certification is frequently put. Most users of forest certification systems rightly focus on its utility for facilitating business transactions. The bigger picture, if there is one, is not of much interest when the commercial interest is upper most. However the big picture matters because it will assist business to manage the political and corporate risk in adopting certification systems. The general argument to use forest certification is to minimize the business risk of not demonstrating regard for sustainability. The complexities of forest certification mean though that the cure can be worse than the bite. Some have found unmanaged adoption of some certification systems has created an even larger risk to the business. The conclusion to draw is that forest certification systems are generally not commercially viable. Yet buyers (retail chains, luxury goods manufacturers, and processors) are pressing processors to demand product is supplied which is certified as sustainable. If the consumers -the customers at the ends of the supply chain - do not value certified product, where is the pressure on the previous link to demand this of timber and timber product suppliers coming from? The answer to that question, and understanding the implications of forest certification systems on business risk, are the reasons this report has been prepared.

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Forests, Certification
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