Does certification make a difference? Impact assessment study on FSC/SAN certification in Brazil
Although the direct effects of certification have not proven to be significant, especially considering the hypotheses related to the FSC principles and criteria mentioned in the study, some environmental changes have been observed among the certified groups in Acre. These include the degree of instruction pertaining to the Management Plan and the Plan for Use of the Agro-Extractive Settlement Project (PAE), the conclusion of the activities foreseen in the Annual Operational Plan, waste disposal (garbage and sewage), awareness of the use of fire, measures to protect the fauna from hunting, and the degree of involvement in reports of environmental crimes. Agricultural certification also resulted in positive impacts on the coffee companies evaluated by the study. The results confirmed the importance of Socio-Environmental Certification in promoting the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources and human development in both the short and long term, fulfilling the expectations of consumers who choose to buy SAN-certified products. The results revealed that the SAN Certification generated positive impacts in relation to training and qualification; protection of Permanent Protection Areas; reforestation with native species; registration of Legal Reserves; use of less toxic pesticides and fertilizers; storage of pesticides and fertilizers; proper use of individual protection equipment; proper disposal of water, sewage and garbage; and workers' health, among others. In general, the results achieved by the study validated the impact evaluation method as an important instrument for the broader understanding of certification and for its evolution. The study also concluded that socio-environmental certification works and should be supported, and that the enterprises and the regions should always be seen in context.