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Our position on forest certification schemes

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 01, 2011 01:05 PM
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Friends of the Earth International strongly rejects certification of large-scale tree plantations and does not support any forest certification scheme at a global level. This page sets out the reasons why.

Forest certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that claims to support responsible forest management worldwide. Certified wood is verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain. The certifying body ensures that trees destined to be certified come from responsibly harvested and verified sources.


A certified logging operation must also respect the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations who depend on the forests.


Why do we reject certification?

Large scale tree plantations impact communities and the environment. The forced migration of local and indigenous communities is common place as plantations contaminate, and often eliminate, local water sources and destroy an area's biodiversity. The rights of the affected communities are generally ignored.


We believe that certification alone fails to address all the negative impacts associated with forest logging.


However, we do believe that certification has partially helped to convince the industry and its political decision-makers that a change of practices is necessary and possible; it has also contributed to the discussion on sustainability, despite not having come up with the right solutions.


The argument put forward that without certification things would be even worse, is not necessarily true. Many of our member groups in the global South have found examples of forest exploitation, certified sustainable, yet flouting all the rules. Reasons for this include poor monitoring and evaluation processes, corruption and weak governance.


We believe that a broader scheme should be introduced which also addresses the unsustainable demand for wood and promotes forms of production that strengthen the rights of people who live off the forest to determine their own food production systems (food sovereignty) and other local sustainable initiatives of wood production.


In conclusion

Certification systems are based on new market demands, especially from the global North, which are there to address the environmental concerns of consumers. They are still strongly rejected in the global South by affected communities, such as those living in, or dependent on, forests, and social movements.


How we're working to stop forest logging

Friends of the Earth International member groups work with local communities to preserve forests and uphold community and indigenous rights to manage forest resources and secure sustainable livelihoods.


We support forest-dwelling communities in upholding collective and traditional land rights. We identify and implement both traditional and innovative practices to restore and protect native species, secure access for communities and monitor protected areas.


We develop and support alternative income generation projects, such as the small-scale trade in non-timber forest products, that ensure sustainable livelihoods that do not endanger biodiversity.  We especially engage women and young people in communities.


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