With only 8% of the world's forests certified to any certification system, one of the most important challenges that global forest leaders face is expanding the globally certified forest area. While about 40% of all forests in the UK are certified, the majority of our forests still remain uncertified.
Costs of certification
With 25% percent of the world's - and 54% of the UK's - forests owned by families and communities, the cost of certification is a major obstacle to expanding forest certification to the more than 90% of forest area currently uncertified globally.
Certification costs include both direct and indirect costs. They fall into the following categories:
- costs of preparatory activities (information, training, revision of documentation)
- costs of changes in forest management (increased number or retention trees, larger buffer zones, etc.)
- costs of internal audits and other additional controls
- costs of external audits and issuance of a certificate
PEFC has developed robust mechanisms to ensure the participation and inclusion of family and community owned forests in forest certification.
PEFC has paid special attention to their needs and their specific cost and operating structures to ensure that forest certification is accessible to all. In order to best respond to cost challenges, PEFC UK has developed a series of certification mechanisms appropriate for the UK context.
This is where an individual forest owner or other enterprise seeks certification for the woodland it owns or manages. This method is available for any size and type of woodland or forest.
However, an individually owned certificate may be particularly appropriate or the preferred option for larger management units - for example, a traditional private estate with a number of forest areas or a single large woodland within a single ownership.
Certification bodies operating are required to have clearly documented procedures for the assessment of individual certification applicants including all the key elements and components.
To overcome the challenge of high certification costs incurred by individual certification, PEFC has developed and popularised the concept of Group Certification as a means by which several forest owners or managers can be certified together under a formally identifiable “Group,” rather than as individual entities.
The fundamental basis of group certification under the Scheme is that all members of the group must formally commit to complying with all the requirements of UKWAS in respect of all forests areas included within the scope of the particular group Scheme concerned.
Administrative and forest management policies that are relevant to the whole group (e.g. management planning, monitoring) may be implemented by the Group Entity or by individual Group Members. Requirements of UKWAS that are implemented at the local forest level (e.g. species choice, felling design, management of biodiversity etc) must be satisfied by each individual group member. Responsibilities for meeting elements of the UKWAS may not be “traded” between different group members or forest areas – e.g. with one group member meeting all biodiversity criteria whilst another member does not meet any.
There are various categories of “groups” for which group certification under the Scheme might be suitable, including for example:
- a formal or informal co-operative of neighbouring or other forest owners;
- a forest owners association or sub-set of the association;
- a forest manager/private practitioner or forest management company or other management practice managing woodlands on behalf of different owners;
- a timber marketing co-operative.
Resource Manager Certification
The basis of Resource Manager Certification is that each woodland owner that wishes to be included under the Resource Manager certificate (the “Client Group”) must make a contractual commitment to have their forest areas managed in accordance with the requirements of UKWAS. The Resource Manager then implements this commitment on behalf of the Client Group.
Administrative and forest management policies relevant to the whole Client Group (e.g. management planning, monitoring) must be implemented consistently by the Resource Manager, but allowing for variations in forest types and individual owners’ management objectives. However, responsibilities for meeting elements of UKWAS cannot be “traded” between different Client Group members’ forest areas e.g. with one client’s forest area meeting all biodiversity criteria whilst another client’s forest area does not meet any.