What is forest certification?
© FSC ICAs a forest manager or owner, certification is a way of ensuring that your careful and long-term forest management is recognised. Certification is voluntary. It involves an audit of forest’s management by an independent organisation to check that it meets internationally and nationally agreed standards of responsible forest management. Forest products like timber can then carry the FSC label, ensuring that it comes from a well-managed forest and enabling you to pass on the benefits of certification to your customers.
What are the benefits of forest certification?
1. Receive the public recognition which responsible forest management deserves.
2. Meet customer demands: UK retailers and specifiers such as local councils and architects increasingly ask forest managers for an independent proof that their forest is well-managed.
3. Gain a competitive edge for your timber.
4. Meet internal policy: certification helps forest managers to demonstrate to owners, investors and/or themselves that they are meeting their objectives of responsible long-term management.
Achieving FSC forest management certification
FSC does not carry out audits itself, this is done by independent, FSC accredited certification bodies.
The time is takes to become certified can vary depending on existing management practices and documentation systems. Click here for more information on how to achieve FSC forest management certification.
What standard is used?
At the international level, FSC has developed its Principles and Criteria of responsible forest management. In the United Kingdom, FSC forest management certification is based on the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). For more information on either, click here.
What are the costs?
The costs for certification vary a lot depending on size and complexity of the woodland. It is very difficult to generalise and you should contact the certification bodies to get an estimate for your woodland. Costs can be considerably reduced if several forests are being assessed together in a group scheme or if the size of your woodland holding or intensity of management fall within the SLIMF (Small and Low Intensity Managed Forests) thresholds, as outlined below. For large forests costs increase with the size of the holding as the assessment requires more time for the field visit, but costs per hectare will be lower. Certification bodies and group schemes will be able to provide an estimate for your woodland.
Group forest management certification has been developed to help smaller woodland owners achieve FSC certification by reducing the costs of certification. Click here for more information.
Small and Low-Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMFs)
Groups of small or low intensity managed forests (SLIMFs) benefit from streamlined auditing procedures designed to reduce the costs of certification. In the UK context, the threshold for small forests has been set at 500 hectares. The intensity of management is assessed in terms of rate at which timber is harvested. Click here for more information about SLIMFs.
Ecosystem Services Procedure
The ecosystem services procedure has been developed as an addition to forest management certification to allow forest managers to demonstrate their positive contribution to conserve or restore forest ecosystem services. Click here for more information.
Small and Community Woods
We know that small and community woodland managers in the UK are passionate about their woods, and value them for a wide variety of reasons. Right now, though, only a handful of such woods hold FSC Forest Management certification. On this page, we set out why we think interest in certifying these woods is growing, and how owners and managers can learn more.
Please visit the FSC Resource Centre for Pest Management, for information on FSC's pesticide policy.