An innovative project towards certification of forest service enterprises has been awarded a 3-year grant by the EU Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation.
It is jointly developed and implemented by the Forest Stewardship Council, the European Network of Forest Entrepreneurs and NEPCon (leading organization).
The key goal of the project is to facilitate certification of small private forests, based on the development of forest contractor certification in the frame of national FSC standards.
Increased competitiveness of European wood products
About 50% of the European forest area is managed by 16 million private owners.
The vast majority of these operations are small to medium sized and generally not FSC-certified yet due to the special conditions of small properties. This limits the overall impact of certification in Europe.
Bottlenecks in FSC-certified raw material supply are now starting to appear, which may decrease the competitiveness of European forest products.
This problem may be overcome by facilitating access to certification even for the small properties based on innovative concepts.
Turning a problem into a solution
Forest contractors are often seen as the weak link in the management of FSC-certified forests. Contractors are charged with the most risky types of activities in the forest, such as logging and skidding, which are hazardous for the workers and may harm the natural forest environment in conflict with the certification requirements.
At the same time, owners of small forest properties are often depending on the work of contractors,while lacking the expertise and capacity to oversee the contractors’ work.
Certification of forest contractors ensures their compliance with the relevant certification rules and turns the problem into a solution: Not only does the forest owner get assurance that the FSC rules are respected.Tthe costs and work load of being FSC certified can even be substantially reduced for the individual forest owner, especially if the use of certified contractors is combined with group certification.
New market for green forest services
Also, certification recognizes the importance of high-quality contractor work.
By developing certified ‘green’ contractor services,the project facilitates the emergence of a new market providing proper reward for forest contractor work that is environmentally and socially sensitive while taking due care of forest products and the long-term productivity of the forest.The concept builds on the experience gained by a similar project in Estonia.
Based on the outcome of the project, FSC may decide to establish contractor certification as a complementary or even integral part of the FSC system.
Key project activities
The project will develop a concept for the certification of forest contractors and small forest operations in 4-7 selected European countries, followed by pilot testing. The project will also analyse the relevant national FSC standards and make proposals for adjustments that take into account the special conditions of the smaller forest properties.
Capacity building and awareness raising activities will be carried out throughout the project. A certification toolkit will be prepared for private forest owners, group managers and forest service enterprises. Key results of the project will be presented in an EU-wide training workshop with participation of key forest service provider organisations and private forest owner representatives.
It is the project’s ambition that 80 small to medium sized forest service enterprises and 500,000 hectares of private forest will become certified based on the project activities.
Support the project
The EU funding covers 60% of the total project budget, and additional support is needed to carry out all of the planned project activities. If you would like to know more or support the project, please contact Jan Peter Feil, Head of NEPCon’s Project Department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile + 45 2821 9103.
Project title: FSC certification of forest service enterprises
Project duration: 27 May 2009 – 27 May 2012
Partners: NEPCon, FSC, and European Network of Forest Entrepreneurs (ENFE)
Budget: 823,502 EUR
Pilot project to enhance smallholder certification in Denmark (24/10 2008)
Adjustment of FSC rules for Swedish small-scale operations (3/10 2008)
New FSC standard for Small Forest Holdings in Latvia - comments invited (25/4 2008)