Certified sawn timber in Guyana ready for export. ITTO assists member countries, including many small and medium-sized forest enterprises, to pursue forest certification. Photo: Ecosdelbosque
Forest certification is a way of verifying whether a forest area is well managed and, through labelling, of assuring consumers that in purchasing labelled products they are supporting sustainable forest management (SFM). Certification is, therefore, a tool for promoting trade in timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests.
ITTO assists its member countries, including many small and medium-sized forest enterprises (SMEs), to pursue certification, but it remains a daunting task, especially in the tropics. Tropical forests are highly diverse, and the criteria and indicators for sustainable management (C&I) are complex; moreover, many SMEs lack the resources need to implement the exacting standards of SFM and the financial means to obtain certification for their operations.
ITTO has commissioned studies on certification; developed guidelines, C&I and auditing systems for SFM; funded projects and activities aimed at assisting SMEs to obtain certification, helping member countries create enabling conditions for SFM, and developing locally appropriate approaches to certification, including phased approaches; and promoted dialogues, discussions and consultations on key aspects of certification.
Among other things, ITTO’s policy work has contributed to the development of the procedures of individual certification schemes and the requirements for recognized certification schemes. The International Tropical Timber Council reviews progress in forest and timber certification annually.