Photo: Mark van Benthem
The Forest Stewardship Council’s new Continuous Improvement Procedure (CIP) is a significant step forward. But further action could be taken to make FSC certification an even more viable option for small and micro community and family forest operations. This was the view expressed by Jens Kanstrup of Forests of the World in an FSC podcast in which he discusses the CIP with Vera Santos, FSC Programme Manager Community and Family Forests, and host Loa Dalgaard, Strategic Director of FSC Denmark. The CIP launched last year and is described by FSC as a stepwise approach toward forest management certification, specially designed for community and family forests.
Under the procedure, organisations managing community or small or low intensity managed forests (SLIMF) can achieve FSC conformity by initially implementing a subset of its criteria. At the same time, they draw up an action plan to adopt other criteria of the applicable FSC standard progressively over five years. “This simplifies their certification journey to give an opportunity to continuously improve their sustainability objectives in forest management and reduces their initial certification costs,” states FSC. “Additionally, the procedure includes an Action Plan and Conformity Self Check which can be used immediately by organizations to develop action plans to enhance their forest management practices.” At the same time, it adds, it is simplifying its standards to facilitate the step-by-step process and introducing more culturally adapted auditing. “The aim is for use of local experts to guide operations rather than experts from another reality,” said Ms Santos. “They can translate FSC requirements to local environments and help forest management understand the rationale of FSC rules and what it needs to see.”
Mr Kanstrup welcomed the CIP, but said the cost of certification for small and micro forest operations remain disproportionate and a barrier to uptake. He also said that, even under the CIP, they would ultimately have to comply with the full range of FSC principles and criteria, albeit over five years. He felt those for community and family forest operations could be further simplified and reduced. “As they may not be involved in certain site disturbing activities like skidding, they may only comply with some parts of FSC criteria on forest impacts,” he said. “Others should be silenced.”
He also said the fact that FSC principles and criteria were initially developed to suit specific forest models, such as those in Europe and the US, needed to be further addressed. “For example Principle 10’s rules on silvicultural practice are mostly designed for the European and US plantation forest model, addressing how to minimise damage from that type of management,” said Mr Kanstrup. “But for community forest in Bolivia, [for instance] with its low intensity management and small volume extraction, most of Principle 10 is irrelevant and shouldn’t be included in certification. It’s not about lowering the bar, but setting it in the right place.” He added that the FSC’s ecosystem services procedure should also be made more accessible for small forest operations. He concluded that the CIP alone would not solve all the issues of small scale forestry certification and that further adaptation of FSC criteria and principles is necessary.
Ms Santos said she was optimistic on the issue. She noted that CIP was now in the implementation support phase, but that the FSC was still navigating new waters with the Procedure and ‘ready to course correct quickly’.
Click here to listen to the FSC podcast.