Will we continue on the certification path we are on, or will we thoughtfully assess and apply the lessons learned to improve the course?
PROVIDED BY DOVETAIL PARTNERS, INC. BY JEFF HOWE, PH.D, PRESIDENT AND KATHRYN FERNHOLTZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In 2013, the world will mark the 20-year anniversary of third-party forest certification. after 20 years of effort, approximately 10% of the world’s forests have been certifi ed through the various programs. During this time, many changes have occurred in the forest sector and in the practice of forest management. Yet, in spite of many successes, major hurdles remain.
Although it could clearly be argued that global forestry has been affected positively, not only are 90% of the world’s forests uncertifi ed but also the certified 10% was already the best-managed forestland in existence. So the key question now is what will the next 20 years of forest improvement look like? Will we continue on the certifi cation path we are on, or will we thoughtfully assess and apply the lessons learned in order to chart an improved course? Based upon the knowledge gained over the past two decades and the experiences of other ecolabeling systems, it is clear that a better method is needed, and is possible. it is time to move beyond the forest certifi cation of the past generation and entertain a broader, more inclusive, and more cost effective approach.
coMPleX & costlY the existing approach to forest certification is extremely complex and is infl icting signifi cant cost on the forest sector. It is complex in that current systems have become moving targets with ever changing standards and inconsistent interpretations that undermine the credibility of the entire effort.
The current approaches to forest certifi cation have created confusion, hypocrisies in the way standards are being applied, and they have failed to adequately address emerging issues such as illegal logging and bioenergy production. forest certifi cation is also costly. to date, it is likely that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in order to recognize the existing best-managed forestlands in the world. one shudders to think of the costs and the complexities of addressing the remaining forest segment under the current approach. there are many diverse benefi ts being realized from forest certifi cation, but the focus needs to be on the forest, rather than the process, and the approach needs to be easily applicable to more diverse forest management situations.