Certification for everybody
Forest certification requires a delicate balance. The requirements must be strict enough to ensure the sustainable management of a forest is socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable. However, they must also be attainable for forests owners, from the large to the small.
It is clear that achieving forest certification can be costly, in both time and money. For large and medium companies, such as those owning or managing larger areas of forestland, with a sufficient budget and workforce, individual certification is the perfect option to demonstrate their sustainable forest management practices.
However, for the millions of small-, family- and community forest owners, the cost of individual certification can pose a significant obstacle. These small- and family forest owners founded PEFC, so since our very first days as an organization, we have had their interests at heart.
Not only is it vital that they are able to achieve certification and benefit from the advantages it brings; with 25% of forests owned by families and communities, it is important for the world too! In fact, in many of the countries striving to establish or expand certified forest area, small landholdings represent a significant share of the forest resource.
Group certification for small-forest owners
With this in mind, we developed the group certification approach. Group certification enables small-forest landowners to group together and organize themselves, pool their resources and work as a team to achieve certification. This makes PEFC certification affordable and practical for small-forest owners.
Around one million small-forest owners have achieved PEFC certification through group certification, and the number continues to grow! This is a testimony to the fact that forest certification is possible for small landholders, and that it is a powerful and cost-effective way of promoting forest conservation and sustainable management.
But developing the group certification mechanism is just the starting point. Through our Collaboration Fund and other PEFC initiatives, we continue to invest in projects and activities that support smallholder certification through engagement, innovation and capacity building. We are also developing tools, such as certification for Trees outside Forests, which will enable smallholders growing trees anywhere in the world to achieve certification and take advantage of the benefits it brings.