© N.C Turner / WWF

Forest Certification

Forest certification is a mechanism for forest monitoring, tracing and labeling timber, wood and pulp products and non-timber forest products, where the quality of forest management is judged against a series of agreed standards.

Credible forest certification covers much more than just logging practices – it also accounts for the social and economic well-being of workers and local communities, transparency and inclusiveness in decision making.

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. 

What certification system can you trust?

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.

Otherwise it’s just a green label. WWF considers the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be the best 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. See the Forest Certification Assessment Tool for a full assessment of major forest certification schemes. 

Scientific evidence on tropical forest certification

Is certified forest management really better than conventional logging for the environment, people, and logging companies’ bottom lines?
Scientific evidence of tropical forest certification
Click on the map above. Use the drop down menus to select data from your country of choice or to view data for a particular type of evidence. Click on the name of an outcome (such as animal diversity, or deforestation and degradation) to display data specific to it. Click on a square to see what evidence the outcome is based on. Data visualization by GreenInfo Network. Database last updated in August 2017. Download data here.

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