Developing Group Certification for New Zealand’s Small Forest Owners
With certification out of reach for most small forest owners in New Zealand, PEFC is supporting a project to develop Group Certification to enable these forest owners to achieve certification.
Over half a million hectares of New Zealand’s forests are owned by small forest growers – almost 15,000 individuals, families and communities owning anything up to 1000 hectares of forest. However, until now, the uptake of certification among these small forest owners has remained extremely low.
One of the main reasons for this is that current forest certification models in the country are too expensive, placing too heavy a burden on these family- and community-owned forests, and leaving it beyond their reach.
Created with the needs of these small forest owners at its heart, PEFC pioneers Group Certification, an alternative approach to individual certification which allows multiple forest owners to become certified as a group.
Group Certification enables small forest owners to share the financial costs, as well as the administration and organizational procedures and responsibilities, arising from certification, making certification accessible and affordable.
PEFC and Group Certification in New Zealand
Responding to the need to develop group certification in New Zealand, the PEFC 2014 Collaboration Fund is supporting a project led by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association Inc. (NZFFA) to begin the development of a PEFC Group Certification System.
The key aspect of this project will be the creation of a scoping and guidance document detailing the ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’ requirements for setting up and implementing a PEFC Group Certification System for small forest owners in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Forest Certification System was endorsed by PEFC in late 2015, and forest owners now able to get their forests PEFC-certified. Once the PEFC Group Certification System is in place, New Zealand’s small forest owners will be able to apply for certification, avoiding the risk of becoming marginalized as the larger forest owners achieve certification.