Forest Certification Programs

Forest management certification programs establish rigorous, voluntary standards that encourage environmentally responsible forestry practices and promote the sustainability of forest resources. Certification to these standards includes an independent, third-party audit of forest planning and management practices to an agreed-upon set of criteria. Forest certification standards address social and economic values as well as environmental protection. Only about 10% of the world's forests are certified to a credible forest certification standard.

Chain of custody certification verifies that organizations have the systems and processes in place to be able to track certified fiber as it moves from the forest through the supply chain.

American Tree Farm System® (ATFS)

The American Tree Farm System works to sustain forests, watershed and healthy wildlife habitats through the power of private stewardship by offering affordable forest certification for family forest landowners in the United States. The ATFS forest management standard requires that certified family forests meet eight standards of sustainability and are managed for multiple purposes: water, wildlife, wood and recreation. ATFS offers three opportunities for certification: through State Tree Farm Committee programs, through independently managed group certification programs and through individual third-party certification. As a program recognized by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, lands certified by ATFS are a principle source of fiber for the SFI and PEFC chain of custody programs.

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Canadian Standards Association® (CSA)

The Canadian Standards Association, a non-profit membership-based organization, worked with a diverse range of stakeholders to develop Canada's national standard for sustainable forest management (CAN/CSA-Z809). For lands to be certified to this standard, forest managers must follow six broad criteria developed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers as part of an international process to create global criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. These criteria are broken down into 35 mandatory core indicators. The CSA standard engages local public advisory committees to assist in the development of indicators and targets for each criterion. This broad public participation process differentiates CSA from other forest certification standards and reflects the Canadian forest situation where more than 93% of forests are publicly owned. The CSA standard is overseen by a technical committee comprised of forest producers, scientists, academics, government representatives, Aboriginal people, labor unions, consumers and environmentalists. There is also a CSA chain of custody standard, and CSA offers on-product labels for products that meet specific chain of custody criteria.  CSA has also recently published standard CAN/CSA-Z804-08 - Sustainable Forest Management for Woodlots and Other Small Area Forests which has been endorsed by PEFC and is recognized by the SFI chain-of-custody system.

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Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®)

The Forest Stewardship Council is a global, fully independent, non-profit organization established to promote environmentally appropriate, socially acceptable and economically viable management of the world's forests. FSC-US was established in 1995 as the FSC national chapter in the United States. FSC-US has a national presence through the work of its board of directors, members, staff and regional standards coordinators. FSC developed a set of principles and criteria for forest management that is applicable to all FSC-certified forests throughout the world. These principles and criteria address legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits and environmental impacts related to forest management. There is also an FSC chain of custody standard, and FSC offers on-product labels for products that meet specific chain of custody criteria.

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Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®) Inc.

SFI Inc. is an independent, nonprofit organization that is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) program.

Across Canada and the United States, more than 240 million acres (100 million hectares) are certified to the SFI forest management standard, the largest single forest standard in the world.

The SFI program's unique fiber sourcing requirements promote responsible forest management on all suppliers' lands. SFI chain-of-custody (COC) certification tracks the percentage of fiber from certified forests, certified sourcing and post-consumer recycled content. SFI on-product labels identify both certified sourcing and COC claims to help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally.

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Programme For The Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization. The world's largest forest certification system, PEFC is an umbrella organization that endorses national forest certification systems that are developed through multi-stakeholder processes and tailored to local priorities and conditions. Currently, PEFC has about 30 independent national forest certification systems as members, all of which have completed a rigorous third-party assessment against PEFC sustainability benchmarks to assure consistency with international requirements. In North America, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) certification systems are recognized by PEFC. There is also a PEFC chain of custody standard, and PEFC offers on-product labels for products that meet specific chain of custody criteria.

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