Forest certification

The positive impact of forest certification extends far beyond the forest. Here we explain why and how.

What is forest certification?

Forest certification is a well-established tool to ensure that responsible forest management practices are implemented in the forest, and that wood from certified forests can be identified throughout the supply chain. Certification systems establish specific forest management, woodfibre sourcing, Chain of Custody tracking and marketing requirements for certified organisations; provide a framework for third-party auditing; and govern the use of promotional and product claims.

Why is forest certification important?

Certification enables conscious consumers to choose responsibly sourced wood-based products. It gives consumers the assurance that the woodfibre used to manufacture the products they are buying has been legally harvested in accordance with sound environmental practices, and that social aspects, such as indigenous rights, have been taken into account. Forest certification and other voluntary codes of conduct are key tools for promoting sustainable consumption and production, and for combating deforestation, forest degradation and illegal logging by providing proof of legality and responsible management, harvesting and manufacturing practices. 

To fully understand the fundamental importance of global, credible forest certification systems coupled with rigorous tracing practices, we need to understand the value and state of the world’s forests. The sale of illegally or unsustainably harvested timber contributes to the loss of biodiversity, degraded watersheds, unhealthy forests subject to destruction from wildfires or pests and pathogens, and deforestation, not to mention the possibility of unsafe working conditions and civil/traditional rights conflicts. Deforestation leads to biodiversity losses and increased greenhouse gas emissions, as forests capture carbon dioxide (CO2)  from the air during the process of photosynthesis and store it in their leaves, wood, roots and soils, acting as ‘carbon sinks’. After the oceans, forests contain the world’s second-largest stores of CO2.

Forest certification’s positive impact on the world’s forests is a result of the improved forest management practices in certified forests coupled with the stringent sourcing and due diligence requirements for non-certified woodfibre inputs. Certificate holders must ensure that all non-certified woodfibre inputs mixed with certified material are from controlled, non-controversial sources. This means that the impact of forest certification extends far beyond the certified forests. Additionally, forest certification requires certificate holders to implement procedures to track and trace the origin of the wood, which is necessary to drive change and support sustainable and transparent supply chains.