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FSC and PEFC Publish Data on Double Forest Certification

June 26, 2017
Author: John Greene

Per a recent announcement from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)—two of the most prominent forest certification systems with a global reach—the two organizations have agreed to jointly collect and publish data on double certification beginning with 2016 data.

The agreement is motivated by the fact that certification is a global tool for the promotion of sustainable forest management, as reflected in the State of the World’s Forests by FAO and in reports about the implementation of sustainable development goals. Identifying tracts of forest that are double certified (certified by both systems) will help to avoid misunderstandings about the current statistics on forest certification when the data from FSC and PEFC are calculated. 

Foresters in different parts of the world have chosen to use both FSC and PEFC certifications to provide for their sustainable forest management practices. From a statistical point of view, this means that their respective certified forest area appears in both the PEFC as well as in the FSC statistics. This poses a calculation challenge for total national certified area, as well as the total global certified area, which leads to inflated figures of certified forest area. PEFC and FSC have therefore decided to work together to provide a more accurate, mutually-agreed upon estimate for the total global certified area. 

Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC said that “Double certification is a common feature now in several countries, often in response to the existence of different market demands for certified material. FSC notes that any forest that is FSC certified, double or not, is implementing the FSC requirements, which is the most important result in light of our mission. This agreement changes nothing in the realities of FSC certification and how it compares to PEFC, but we will now be able to offer reliable figures on total certification to governments, researchers and other stakeholders.” 

  • At the end of 2016, FSC reported a total certified area of 196 million hectares (484 million acres) and PEFC reported a total of 301 million hectares (744 million acres) for a combined area of 497 million hectares (1.23 billion acres).* 

  • Based on the joint research, PEFC and FSC conclude that at the end of 2016, almost 69 million hectares (or 16 percent) of global forest area are double certified, and the total global certified area is in fact 429 million hectares (1.06 billion acres). Double certification exists currently in 28 countries.*

    PEFC and FSC agreed-upon estimates for double certified forest area in 2016 by country (in hectares):


Forest Stewardship Council

Founded in 1994, The Forest Stewardship Council has worked to care for the worlds’ forests and those who rely on them by protecting plant and animal species, Indigenous Peoples rights, forest workers’ safety and much more. This is achieved through FSC certification, which ensures that forests around the world are responsibly and sustainably managed. Currently, FSC certifies forests in over 80 countries worldwide. 

FSC uses the following ten principles:  FSC_1.png


Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification 

Established in 1999, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification is an international, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification systes. PEFC’s endorses national certification systems that meet the guidelines of its international Sustainability Benchmark, which “allows standards to be adaptable to local conditions, consistent with national laws and regulations, and meet the expectations of stakeholders on the ground.” 

PEFC uses the following six criteria: FSC_2.png


Forest Certification in the US and Canada 

In the United States and Canada, there are also other PEFC-recognized forest certification programs that are unique to the two North American countries:

  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS) - ATFS is applicable only in the United States and specializes in certifying private forests, primarily those held by individuals and families. ATFS currently certifies over 9.7 million hectares (24 million acres).
  • Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management Standard (SFM) - the Canadian Standards Association SFM Standard is applicable only in Canada and has certified more than 40 million hectares (99 million acres) of forestland.
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) - SFI is applied throughout North America and is the world’s largest regional forest certification program in terms of total certified forest area. SFI has certified more than 115 million hectares (285 million acres).

Going forward, FSC and PEFC have agreed to provide official estimates concerning double-certified forest area on an annual basis. As more and more forestland continues to be recognized by these certification systems, this joint decision will help to improve data accuracy the reliability of forest-based statistics on a global scale.

*Data limitations: In some cases, data was collected prior to December 2016. Figures are based on best available estimates for some countries. Data only includes area certified to PEFC and FSC.

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