Establishing group certification for New Zealand’s small-forest owners
Over half a million hectares of New Zealand’s forests are owned by small forest growers – almost 15,000 individuals, families and communities owning anything up to 1000 hectares of forest. However, the uptake of certification among these small forest owners had remained low.
One of the main reasons for this was that previous forest certification models in the country were too expensive, placing too heavy a burden on these family- and community-owned forests, and leaving it beyond their reach.
Created with the needs of these small forest owners at its heart, PEFC pioneers group certification, an alternative approach to individual certification which allows multiple forest owners to become certified as a group.
Group certification enables small forest owners to share the financial costs, as well as the administration and organizational procedures and responsibilities, arising from certification, making certification accessible and affordable.
PEFC and group certification in New Zealand
Responding to the need to develop group certification in New Zealand, the PEFC 2014 Collaboration Fund supported a project led by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association Inc. (NZFFA) to begin the development of a PEFC group certification system.
The key aspect of this project was the creation of a guidance document detailing the steps for setting up and implementing a PEFC group certification system for small-forest owners in New Zealand. This document was finalized in August 2018. It is expected that NZFFA will start the first PEFC group certification system with its forest owner members, scaling up over time to include increasing numbers of forest owners.
The New Zealand Forest Certification System was endorsed by PEFC in late 2015, and forest owners are now able to get their forests PEFC-certified.
With the PEFC group certification system now in place, New Zealand’s small forest owners are able to apply for certification, avoiding the risk of becoming marginalized as the larger forest owners achieve certification.