Technical Updates


Friday, 14 December 2018
Consultation open on proposal for FSC forestry contractor certification

The New Approaches for Smallholders and Communities Certification project has established an international working group to develop a proposal on the inclusion of forestry contractors in the FSC system. A consultation on the proposal will be open until 6 January 2019.


The working group has been following motion 46/2017 to address the FSC membership’s mandate to develop a proposal for the introduction of a forestry contractor certification tool for improving smallholder certification uptake.

The intention is to improve the certification implementation and uptake by smallholders and communities, through the inclusion of forestry contractors into the FSC certification system.

Specific goals of this proposal

1. To assess how the concept of forestry contractor certification could be incorporated into the FSC certification process/system;
2. To identify impacts of this proposed new solution to FSC certification processes;
3. To provide input to other areas of the FSC normative framework that would require revision in order to be adapted to this new approach;
4. To provide input into the revision processes of FSC Standard for Group Entities in Forest Management Groups (FSC-STD-30-005) and Forest management evaluations (FSC-STD-20-007) respectively.

Proposed framework

As FSC currently does not provide a mechanism to recognise forestry contractors (independently from the contracting organisation) for their contribution to compliance with parts of our forest management standards, the working group feels that it would be beneficial to create a formal framework which would provide such recognition.

Such a forestry contractor certification framework should consist of a two-step approach:

A baseline standard for stand-alone forestry contractor certification to be developed by FSC, which would be based on the international generic indicators of the FSC principles and criteria. This baseline would consist of universal minimum requirements that shall be complied with by the forestry contractor in order to become and stay certified.

Each national FSC office would also have the authority to add other indicators from the applicable national forest stewardship standard to this package. At the national level, this would allow national standard requirements to be assigned to the most appropriate entity (i.e. group certificate holder/forest owner and/or certified forestry contractor). These requirements would reflect the national context, ability of the contractors and appropriate level of complexity that can be dealt with by certified forestry contractors in a country.

Which forest management units would be included in the proposal?

The working group feels that whilst the overall objective of this proposal is to propose a new solution that will improve the FSC certification system for smallholders and communities, this proposal should also be considered as a tool for all types of certified forest management units – small, medium and large.

The proposed changes to the FSC system would allow for:

1. Individually-certified forestry contractors could provide services for an FSC forest management certificate holder (the forest management certificate holder could include both group and individual certificate holders);
2. Certified forestry contractors could form group certificates to allow for a more cost-effective way of providing certified services for forest management certificate holders.

Potential benefits

The working group considers that if a forestry contractor certification framework was developed, it would likely provide FSC certification with the following general benefits:

1. Forestry contractors to become more engaged with the FSC system;
2. FSC becoming more aligned with current forest management practices and modus operandi in many countries where forestry contractors’ role in round wood supply is significant;
3. FSC system could become more cost-efficient to implement;
4. More efficient division of operational and administrative responsibilities between forest management certificate holders and certified forestry contractors;
5. Improved operational risk management for FSC as a result of inclusion of forest management operators into the certification framework;
6. Contractors more empowered within the system and able to provide certified services (an incentive for the creation of more forest management certificates);
7. Simplified certification procedure – improved cost benefits for forest owners and certificate holders.

Participate in the consultation and read the proposal in full


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