Forest certification is widely seen as the most important initiative of the last decade to promote better forest management. Responsible forest management is a key component of WWF’s vision for a future in which people live in harmony with nature.
Forest products are renewable, which is an advantage compared to many other natural resources. So the sustainable use of renewable forest products can help provide forest dependent people with shelter, fuel, medicine and other services, while providing essential habits for plants and animals and well as a safeguard against climate change.
WWF understands the threats facing forests today, but trying to prohibit the use of forest resources isn’t a viable solution.
Responsible forest management is an important solution and a credible system of certification can ensure the sustainable management of these vital resources. However, certification is not a universal remedy against the world’s forest crises - it cannot replace scientifically sound regulations and legislation. Also, forest certification has yet to provide much of a stimulant to spread locally controlled forest management as its spread is limited because the high costs involve outweigh the tangible benefits.
Today there are a plethora of forest certification schemes. Certification will only ensure responsible forest management if the system has comprehensive management standards, rigorous control mechanisms and broad involvement of economic, environmental and social stakeholders. To be credible, schemes should have strong verification systems. A scheme largely based on legal rules, procedures and enforcement, may be valid in countries with strong and functioning law enforcement, but could potentially be damaging in countries where this is not the case.
What certification system can you trust?
WWF considers the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be the most robust certification system to ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests. WWF therefore recommends the FSC system to consumers, forest managers, policymakers and businesses.