Caring for our forests globally
National Sites

Approaches to Certification

german-forest1With 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.

Costs of certification

With 25% percent of the world'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 the needs of small forest holdings and their specific cost and operating structures to ensure that forest certification is accessible to all by establishing the concept of group certification, a concept now replicated by certification organizations in other sectors globally.

Group Certification

Group certification is an alternative approach to individual certification, allowing multiple forest owners to become certified as a Group and share the financial costs arising from obtaining certification.

Given that fragmented forest ownership is the predominant model in many countries both in the developing and the developed world, Group Certification has proven to be the most effective option for small family- and community-owned forests to obtain certification and gain access to global timber markets, especially those requiring both wood and non-wood forest products from certified sources.

Without group certification, small forest holdings would be faced with significant barriers to certification, including:

  • limited financial income of small forest owners
  • periodicity of their management activities and revenues
  • limited access to information and knowledge.

Under the system of Group Certification, a Group Entity represents the individual forest owners, with the overall responsibility for ensuring conformity of forest management in the certified area with the PEFC requirements.

Individual forest owners who join the group on a voluntary basis are in turn required to comply with all requirements, provide full cooperation and assistance in the implementation of forest certification, and are obliged to implement relevant corrective and preventive actions established by the Group Entity..

Individual Certification

In Individual Certification, a forest owner applies for certification directly with the certification body for all the forest area under his ownership or management within a country.

PEFC Documentation

ST1002-2010Group Forest Management Certification (PEFC ST 1002:2010)
Defines the general requirements for forest certification schemes which include group forest management certification and allow the certification of a number of forest owners/managers under one certificate.

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 309 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 20,000

(as of December 2018)

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PEFC projects

We support a number of projects to help small forest owners become certified through Group Certification:

Group Certification Tools

indonesia cf small

Latvia 2-sm

new zealand small
New Zealand

portugal small forest

smallholders sm
Smallholder Group Certification

Get Certified!

Contact a PEFC-notified certifier in your country for further information about PEFC certification.