The effects of FSC Certification in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and the UK. Summary report & country reportsBackground and Overview
Five years after forest certification began its rapid expansion in Europe the questions "what benefits have certification brought?" or "what tangible differences are there to forest management because of certification?" are being asked. In an attempt to answer these questions WWF carried out an analysis of forest certification in Europe. The analysis was based on information available on the internet. The benefits of forest certification quoted in this paper refer only to those provided by FSC certification.
The analysis was carried out for six countries: Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and the UK. It is based upon the publicly available information from audit reports prepared by independent assessors. The Corrective Action Requests, listed in the audit reports, provide a summary of the changes that forest managers have had to make to achieve or maintain the forest certification standard. It is important to note however, that improvements made in preparation of the certification audits are not captured in this analysis, so the summary provided almost certainly underestimates the benefits provided.
2817 Corrective Action Requests were reviewed, covering 18million hectares of forest. Together they provide a comprehensive overview of the impacts of forest certification. This report presents the results of this analysis, comparing the trends across all 6 countries whilst drawing important conclusions for key audiences and stakeholders in the debate on certification. The conclusions presented are those based on results from at least three countries, with the majority of observations valid for five or six countries. They therefore present evidence of fundamental system-wide improvements to the management of Europe's forests.
Finally, this report concentrates on the consistent Europe-wide benefits of certification. It is important to note that in addition to the generic results presented in this report, significant country specific improvements were also recorded in all countries. For example,
• in Sweden, which started from a relatively high level of forest management, FSC certification has led to improved planning and use of forest residues for biomass in order not to compromise biodiversity management, and on social issues the rights of the Sami people are now formally respected and addressed in forest management.
• in Russia employment rights for forest workers have been strengthened with workers now paid on time.
The ability to improve country specific issues in forest management in different national contexts is an important additional conclusion from this analysis, however not covered in detail in this overview.