For the majority of forestry products, there is a significant gap between current practices and what is recognized as responsible forest management, and even more so for forest certification. For many forestry producers, the process of certification is difficult to achieve, not to mention the fact that they lack technical support to meet the requirements, especially those related to environmental and social aspects.
WWF, in connection with its work in Latin America and the Caribbean, has developed and validated the Step Wise Approach (SWAC) as a practical tool that allows forestry producers to achieve, in a gradual manner, an adequate level of management practices that will give them the opportunity to have an independent evaluation for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.
An advantage of the Step Wise Approach to Forest Management and Certification consists of linking the producers "in process of certification" with buyers interested in certified products (participants of the Global Forest and Trade Network - GFTN, and others), as well as increasing the trust of interested buyers in buying products from well managed forests and / or those in process of FSC certification.
Some of the factors that justify the development of this tool are:
- It is estimated that there will be an increased demand on behalf of buyers interested in wood and products from well managed and certified forests.
- It is necessary to facilitate the forest certification process through a simplified system that reduces implementation and maintenance costs of independent certification.
- It is important to provide targeted technical assistance, which is also sequential and gradual, in order to promote changes in the traditional forest extraction schemes, towards achieving sustainable forestry management and independent forest certification.