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Using technology to make certification more accessible to smallholders

The 2018 Collaboration Fund is supporting the development of an online platform that will use satellite data to enhance the monitoring of group certification, improving the accessibility of PEFC certification to small-forest owners.

PEFC Spain cf 2018The key to successful group certification is to balance the need for robust implementation of requirements with the need to be as resource efficient as possible.

Group certification works through a combination of internal and external auditing. As certification bodies do not audit every smallholder, costs are substantially lower, helping make certification accessible. However, this means internal auditing must work flawlessly.

While the revision of our Group Forest Management Certification benchmark will strengthen the requirements for internal monitoring and auditing within a certified group, we must also look to technology to make this process more robust and efficient.   

With the 2017 PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue ‘Making Certification Smart’ a catalyst, PEFC Spain and Agresta S.Coop examined how satellite data technologies could improve the accessibility of PEFC group certification to smallholders, while heightening the reliability of monitoring.

Satellites and PEFC certification

Supported by the 2018 PEFC Collaboration Fund, PEFC Spain and Agresta have begun the development of an online platform that will use satellite data to improve the monitoring of group certification.

The project will implement a remote sensing system, using the Galicia region of Spain as a pilot project. It will focus on improving monitoring and auditing processes, using satellite data for regular change detection (such as clear-cuts, thinnings and burned areas).

The online platform will provide access to geo-information, including cadastres, certified areas and change detection maps, in a way that is easy to use for people with no GIS knowledge.

Project partners will test the system in a tailor-made way to ensure its real use and the empowerment of group certification managers and certification bodies within Galicia. However, in the long-term, it will be possible to transfer the system to any other PEFC certified group in the world.

By the end of the project, we expect the tool to be fully integrated and used by all the certificate holders and certification bodies to monitor risks and make annual audits in Galicia. Over time, the system will be rolled out globally and new functionalities integrated.

By making it easier to conduct audits and collect data, and thereby reducing costs, this system will make group certification more accessible to smallholders and more robust in implementation.

Implementing organization

PEFC Spain is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting Sustainable Forest Management through independent third-party certification. PEFC Spain is the national member for the country, and joined PEFC in 1999.

Project partner