Unit 6 - Forest Management Strategies

Lesson 5: Canada's Certification Programs

Over the past number of years, a growing number of consumers have demanded that forest products originate from forests that are managed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. This consumer concern has resulted in the institution of the "third-party certification" process. This certification process, which first emerged in the 1990s, goes above and beyond regulatory requirements and takes environmental, economic, and social values into consideration.

Basically, it involves an outside organization evaluating and certifying the forest management practices of a given forestry industry. When customers purchase a forest product that is certified, they can be assured that the forest product in question is coming from responsibly managed forests.

Although it is not a legal requirement that forest organizations be certified, certification has nevertheless been adopted quickly across Canada. With approximately one-third of its forests now certified, Canada is home to 40% of the world's certified forest. 

There are several different certification systems worldwide. Each system varies in its approach to forest management, however they all share common elements.  Certification means verifying that practices are being carried out in a way that meets accepted environmental, social and economic criteria for responsible forestry.  The standards for good forest management practices are reviewed regularly and evolve with changing expectations about what sustainable forest management entails.

Three internationally recognized forest certification programs are currently used in Canada. All three build upon the solid environmental management system advocated by the International Organization for Standardization which provides general guidelines for any industry wishing to implement, maintain and improve an environmental management system.

First released in 1996, this independent non-profit association has developed Canada's National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management. It is the leading forest certification standard in Canada and the first national sustainable forest management standard in the world.

For more information on this organization, click here.

This standard was developed by the American Forest and Paper Association. It seeks to balance the regeneration and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, soil and water quality, biodiversity, and ecologically significant sites.
For more information on this organization, click here.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international body which issues a certificate for well-managed forests. It seeks to ensure that the ecosystem of the forest is not damaged and that the rate of logging is at sustainable levels. This certification system is supported by a majority of environmental organizations.

For more information on this organization. click here.
ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards. It is a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, one member per country. There is a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.
The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard is a generic standard applicable for use in all industry sectors and applications. It provides a solid management system for meeting goals and then improving on them. The forestry-specific standards (CSA, FSC, SFI) can then be built on top of this foundation of continual improvement.

For more information on this organization, click here.

You have completed Unit 6; continue to the next page for Quiz 5.