Smallholder Group Certification Programme
Our group forest certification is a mechanism through which groups of like-minded small forest owners and holders can pool their resources to achieve third-party verified sustainable forest management certification.
We developed this approach to certification in response to the unique tenure system that characterizes an important proportion of forest areas in developed and developing countries alike.
Globally, about 30% of forest area is managed locally by families, communities and indigenous peoples. Group Certification allows smallholders to develop a better understanding of mutual interests and common needs, and share experiences and good practices.
In addition, it should make certification affordable for smallholders when individual certification may be too expensive, allowing them to spread the costs, share the administration and organizational procedures, and provide economies of scale.
Our Smallholder Group Certification programme was first launched in 2010. It promotes smallholder certification in areas where it is less widespread, but where the sustainable management of forests has taken on increasing urgency in light of efforts to combat climate change and alleviate poverty.
The programme is focused on sharing experience and facilitating cooperation amongst family forest owners, community forest groups and indigenous peoples in implementing sustainable forest management and pursuing forest certification.
Recognizing that forest certification will only occur when sufficient technical capacity, organization and motivation of landholders exists, we use a partnership approach to contribute to local needs and build capacity across a range of pre-requisites to certification.
In collaboration with international and local partners, we aspire to innovate and develop solutions to promote rural livelihoods, improve access to markets and increase the uptake of forest certification.
The first phase of the project analyzed the experiences of small family forest owners in Europe in establishing group certification models and pursuing PEFC certification. The research examined existing practices and identified key elements influencing the uptake of forest certification amongst small landholders.
Since then the programme has worked in a range of ways to stimulate policy dialogue, share experiences across the globe, and build practical solutions through projects at the local level.
For example, in November 2017 we convened a field dialogue with the Finnish Agri-Agency for Food and Forest Development (FFD) to exchange knowledge and building capacity on group certification. The dialogue enabled the group of experts to share experiences and advance the development of innovative models for group certification.
We will be holding the next smallholder field dialogue in Michelstadt, Germany, in November 2019.