Certifying Integrity? Forest Certification and Anti-Corruption

dc.contributor.authorSoreide, T.
dc.contributor.authorWilliams, A.
dc.titleCertifying Integrity? Forest Certification and Anti-Corruptionen
dcterms.abstractForest certification schemes regulate forest exploitation and trade across many countries. In the absence of a multilateral agreement on limiting deforestation, they provide a framework of rules to balance the social, economic and ecological values of forest resources, bringing together stakeholders such as environmental NGOs, local forest managers, and major buyers of forest products. Expansion of these schemes into tropical forested countries that display poor governance and high levels of perceived corruption has raised questions about these schemes' performance in such contexts. This U4 Issue Paper asks whether forest certification is capable of addressing issues of corruption in poor governance settings, referring throughout to the case of the Forest Stewardship Council. We find that forest certification is not primarily geared towards detecting and preventing corruption in the forest sector. In country settings where corruption is sporadic but not systemic, certification may have some anti-corruption effects due to its role in documenting forest management practices and applying third- party monitoring. Its piecemeal implementation coupled with limited engagement with national forest policy-makers and -frameworks means certification efforts in settings where corruption is systemic is likely to make few, if any, anti-corruption contributions. In such settings, donors can help build a more explicit anti-corruption focus by ensuring certification is complemented by other policy initiatives aimed at improving national forest governance.en
dcterms.accessRightsOpen access
dcterms.bibliographicCitationSøreide, T. and Williams, A., 2013. Certified integrity? Forest certification and anti-corruption. U4 Issue.en
dcterms.publisherU4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre
fsc.evidenceCategoryFSC impact-related
fsc.focus.sustainDimensionPolitical, legal, systemic
fsc.subjectEconomic Impacts
fsc.subjectSocial Impacts
fsc.subjectEcological Impacts
fsc.subjectPolitical Impacts
fsc.subjectLatin America
fsc.topic.politicalCorruption and taxes
fsc.topic.politicalNational Forest Policy
is.availability.fullTextFull text available
is.contributor.funderTypeMixed sources
is.contributor.memberForest Stewardship Council
is.evaluation.dataSourceData by scheme / tool under evaluation
is.evaluation.dataSourceIntergovernmental Data
is.evaluation.notesAnalysis of corruption in forest management and wood trade worldwide. States FSC as the scheme with the highest standards and best monitoring and control mechanisms. Underlines the potential of FSC's work in reducing corruption and recognizes what was done to fight corruption, but also doubts the FSC certification in Congo Basin, based on a report of Greenpeace regarding a corrupt certified company and general critique from NGO side.
is.evaluation.quotesThe results also show that the financial returns from certified forest products are much higher than for non-certified forest products for the farmer, both at 7% and 12% interest rates. However, these differences are dependent on the donor organisation bearing most of the costs of certification.
is.evaluation.quotesComparing the sawmiller's returns with the farmer's returns per cubic metre of final product (Table 5) indicates that the farmer's return much higher than that of the sawmiller and that there is a gain in having certified products for both actors. The benefit of certified pro- ducts for the sawmiller is more than 1.4 times higher than for un- certified products, while for the farmer it is about 1.2 times higher.
is.evaluation.quotesThe results of this study indicate that, growing acacia plantations for timber over a 10 year rotation can result in net benefits to both tree growers and sawmiller. Assuming most of the costs of certification are borne by external parties, there are higher returns from producing product for a certified market, with a greater relative return to the sawmiller from certification
is.evaluation.quotesHowever, because of additional costs and other management issues, certification may not be a desirable option for a smallholder.
is.evaluation.quotesSo far, our discussion has been based on current practices in which the SNV and WWF are organising farmers into a group and support them by covering most of the certification costs and the farmers themselves are bearing only a nominal certification fee. Under this ar- rangement and the scenarios presented here both the farmers and the sawmiller have positive returns from engaging in a supply chain for certified forest products." Notably, the authors also mention that "applying the full cost of certification to the grower will change these results considerably, depending on who bears the costs of certification".
is.evaluation.quotesOur analysis (Table 7) suggested that an aggregation of 3000 ha of smallholder farmers might receive sufficient overall return from selling certified wood to cover the costs of certification.
is.evaluation.quotesthat an aggregation of 3000 ha of smallholder farmers might receive sufficient overall return from selling certified wood to cover the costs of certification...Even the current group certification schemes, supported by the WWF and SNV in the study area, have found it difficult to attract enough smallholders and required forest area for certification.
is.evaluation.quotesIf the smallholder growers are required to bear all costs of certification, it will only be marginally profitable to grow for this market, unless there is a significant increase in the price of certified logs or the costs of forest management plans and paperwork can be reduced or spread over a large number of growers.
is.evaluation.quotesCorruption is a well-established issue in the management of tropical forests and one which it isrecognized needs to be addressed by national and subnational policies and practices if sustainableforest use is to be achieved. Indeed, forest certification schemes operating in poor governanceenvironments readily acknowledge corruption as an important issue.
is.evaluation.quotesThere are at least three levels on which FSC certification exercises control of forestmanagement practices which may have knock-on anti-corruption effects. First, international conservation NGOs focused on forest certification can engage in whistleblowing when they perceive social and/or environmental criteria to be compromised by a particular certificateholder. [...] Second, the annual audit process forming part of FSC certification procedures offers a relatively regular local check on forest management practices in certified areas. [...] Third, by rationalizing forest management accounting practices and applying regular audits to financial accounts, FSC certification may raise standards of financial management among certified operators and narrow the scope for off-budget expenditures potentially linked to corrupt practices.
is.evidenceSubTypeMonitoring report - performance
is.evidenceTypeMonitoring report
is.focus.productsOther forestry and logging
is.focus.sdgSDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
is.focus.sustainIssueRights of indigenous peoples and local communities
is.focus.sustainLensTransnational governance
is.focus.sustainOutcomeGovernance mechanisms
is.focus.systemElementMandE outcomes and impacts
is.focus.systemElementMandE performance monitoring
is.identifier.schemeNameForest Stewardship Council
is.identifier.schemeTypeVoluntary Sustainability Standards