Developing tools to support small-forest owners achieve certification
With the unique circumstances of small- and family- forest owners an important focus for us, we supported the development of an online system to ease the administrative burden of smallholders, streamline the preparation of forest management plans, and provide an effective mechanism to monitor compliance with certification requirements.
The cost and administrative burden of forest certification can often be a barrier to small- and family-forest owners looking to certify their forests, despite their responsible and sustainable management of the forests. The roots of PEFC are with these smallholders and family foresters, ensuring that certification is not out of their reach.
First we developed Group Certification, a mechanism that allows groups of forest landholders to pool their resources and work together to achieve forest certification, sharing both the costs and administrative responsibilities. Since then, we have worked to continually increase our support to these forest owners.
An important development towards this goal was the creation of a web-based registration tool to ease the Group Certification process for small-forest owners.
PEFC Online for Private Forest Owners
Starting in 2011, the PEFC Collaboration Fund supported a project by lngenieursbureau Evan Buytendijk BV (IEB) to develop an online group registration system and management system to assist small forest owners become certified to the Dutch national forest certification standard.
The project, entitled “Forest Group Certification for Small Forest Owners in the Netherlands" targeted almost 2,000 forest owners with a forest area of more than 5 hectares, and roughly 10,000 very small forest owners with forest areas smaller than 5 hectares.
To streamline the process of Group Certification and create an effective mechanism to monitor compliance with certification requirements, the project organized several activities. These included the development of a web-based registration tool for applicants of forest management group certification, and communication activities to promote PEFC to forest owners in the Netherlands.
With a focus on private forest owners in both the UK and Ireland, this internet-based tool provides small and medium forest owners with a cost effective and competitive means to assist them in their bid to become certified.
The online system, launched in June 2015, provides forest owners with a user-friendly means of assessing the compatibility of their forest management plans with their national PEFC-endorsed certification standards, as well as assist them in the preparation of new or revised management plans. It also acts as an aid to group certification managers, helping them to function more efficiently while at the same time reducing costs.
Now this English language version of the system has been developed, we will look into rolling it out across all PEFC member countries where English is the principle or common language, before eventually being adapted by countries with different languages.