© FSC I.C.Group Forest Management certification has been developed to help owners and managers of woodlands - especially of smaller woodlands - to achieve FSC certification by reducing costs.
How does it work?
At its simplest, group certification involves multiple woods with different owners grouped together and overseen by a Group Entity, which holds the FSC certificate for the whole group. This Group Entity could be an individual or a group of people such as a co-operative, an owners’ association, or a company.
Within a group, the Group Entity has flexibility to allocate the responsibility for various requirements of the applicable Forest Stewardship Standard; the Group Entity could take responsibility for setting some policies and procedures, for example. It is also possible to create one or more Resource Management Units within a group, where a Resource Manager is granted responsibility over some or all of the woods in the group. This structure allows for more consistent management to be implemented by the Resource Manager.
The Group Entity is responsible for setting group rules and carrying out internal monitoring to ensure that group members meet all relevant FSC requirements. External auditing is carried out by an FSC-accredited certification body on a sample basis.
Sample-based external auditing should reduce the direct costs of certification for individual woodland owners. The delegation of certain responsibilities to the Group Entity, and in some cases to a Resource Manager, should help to relieve some of the burden of compliance with standards, and could lead to improvements in woodland management.
Can I join a forest management group scheme?
FSC places no restriction on the size of the forests managed by the group scheme members, nor on the type of land ownership (including public, private or community owned). However, each Group Entity must establish rules setting out who can become a member of the group, and of course it is also necessary to meet the requirements of the applicable Forest Stewardship Standard.
How do I join?
You can begin by contacting existing forest management group schemes. We always recommend that you contact more than one, as their costs and services may differ.
Please note that whilst it can be cost-effective to be part of a group scheme it might also be worth getting quotes for individual certification from FSC accredited certification bodies. Again, we recommend that you contact more than one.
Can I run a group scheme?
Yes, it is possible to set up a new group scheme if you meet the requirements for a Group Entity set out in the FSC standard FSC-STD-30-005 V2-0 EN Forest management groups. Please get in touch with FSC accredited certification bodies if you are interested in setting up and running a group scheme.