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Making Participation Count for Landowners, Managers and Stakeholders

Tim Cadman1

Canberra University’s Centre for Environmental Philosophy Planning and Design


This paper presents the case for Independent, third party forest certification of smaller scale tenures as a mechanism for delivering ecologically sustainable management, and for gaining product access to new markets. A range of options is available to the landowners (Forest Stewardship Council, Australian Forestry Standard, etc.), but what will deliver the best outcomes for all participants?

Landowners need to be sure that the process they engage in will both deliver cost-effective forest product certification and satisfy the requirements of the various stakeholder groupings that have an interest in forest management. Forest managers, planners and certifiers require a clear set of operational guidelines to ensure that they have captured all the elements necessary to demonstrate social, economic and environmental sustainability. Third party interest groups should be included in the management planning process in a way that guarantees ownership of and support for the initiative.

The process of certification can be complex and fraught with difficulties if not conducted properly. However, certification of forest management can be cost-effective for smaller tenures via a range of mechanisms, notably the use of “group certification” whereby costs of certification are borne by a number of landowners managing their lands under a common set of operational principles. This process, along with chain of custody, can be developed in a way that streamlines the extent to which managers, planners and certifiers are involved in the certification process. The paper outlines a new set of criteria and indicators for participation in the forest management process that provides land owners, managers, certifiers and community stakeholders with a clear methodology for this important social aspect of SFM.

The current state of play with current domestic certification initiatives is outlined, and a demonstration model for small-scale plantation/agroforestry that can result in certified forest products within a relatively short time frame is presented.

Economic significance of certification of forest products

The market for independently certified wood products is growing internationally, and is now an important market-based tool for improving forest management internationally.

There is some evidence to suggest that consumers are concerned as to the origin and environmental claims of wood products and, like retailers, will pay a premium to obtain timbers that are certified.

Producers whose management principles already permit certification are well-placed to benefit from predicted increase in availability of certified timbers.

There are now over 17 million hectares of forests certified under the international Forest Stewardship Council’s “Principles and Criteria for Well Managed Forests” (FSC). In Europe, certified timber occupies are large slice of market share in some countries and independent certification has become the basis for the development of national forestry standards (e.g. Sweden).

The UK has developed its own Woodland Assurance Scheme, which will be compatible with the FSC and other standards. Eight hundred thousand hectares are set to be certified under this scheme. UK-based “1995 Plus Group”, a buyers group established by 50 wood product retailers and the World Wide Fund for Nature accounted for $5 billion worth of forest product sales or 40% of all wood products sold in the UK in 1996.

The American situation echoes the European experience. On a national governmental level, the US Forest Service and State agencies are engaged in a process to develop conformity of approaches with Montreal. Independent, third party certification is mostly advocated by NGOs and follows the FSC model, while industry bodies in the main are advocating their own process, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

There is growing demand for FSC certified forest products from US markets.

This in turn is influencing US regional enterprises elsewhere (eg Australia) to convert to an FSC certification standard. Some of these processors are sourcing their softwood plantation requirements from State management agencies who are also examining the merits of pursuing FSC certification.

Australian farm forestry could benefit from pursuing C&L. To be cost-effective, there are avenues available to pursue group certification through a number of certifiers including the FSC.

Key Concepts

Sustainable Forest Management

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is an accepted aim of a number of international government agreements that have been developed post-UNCED. Of relevance in the Australian context is the Montreal Process which has developed “Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Boreal Forests”. The use of such criteria and indicators (C&I) is an accepted methodology for describing, assessing and evaluating a country’s progress towards sustainability.

Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management

To maintain and/or restore all species of flora and fauna in their natural patterns of distribution and abundance across their natural range (National Forest Summit, 1999).

Ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) is the guiding philosophy for forest conservation and management. This philosophy is founded on a set of basic principles that are an integral part of the Regional Forest Agreement process and are reflected [sic.] Australia’s international commitments, the National Forest Policy Statement, State Government Policies and the concerns and interests of stakeholders in the forest” (NSW State Forests, July 2000)

Criteria and Indicators

Criterion: A category of conditions or processes by which sustainable forest management may be assessed

Indicator: A measure (or measurement) of an aspect of the criterion. (Montreal Process, Dec. 1999)


Certification is a process which in a written quality statement (a certificate) attesting to the origin of raw wood material and its status and/or qualifications following validation by an independent third party (Baharuddin and Simula, 1996 in: Tropenbos, 1997).


The provision and control of a physical label providing information to the consumer at the end of an unbroken chain of custody.” (Bass, 1996)

Independent, third party certification

There is universal agreement that to deliver a credible label, certification assessments or audits must be carried out by an independent certifier (third-party assessment) and not by the forest owners or managers themselves. Furthermore, once certified, the forests should be monitored regularly (preferably annually) to ensure that management is in accordance with management plans and that required improvements have been carried out. Consultation of all stakeholders should be an essential part of the certification process. (Fern, May 2001)


The combination of forestry and agricultural pursuits on the same land (Conservation Council of Western Australia, 2000)

Agroforests are defined as complex agroforestry systems which look like and function as natural forest ecosystems, but are integrated into agricultural management systems. Their conception, their management and their economic and environmental qualities, clearly differentiate them from better known “simple” agroforestry associations as alley cropping, intercropping or hedgerow systems… They appear in various forms and imply very different components from a region to another, but all exhibit the same fundamental ecological, technical and socio-economic qualities, such as soil protection, biodiversity conservation, use of simple techniques and technologies, high compatibility with local knowledge and representation systems, provision of good levels of monetary income, high returns to labour.

(Michon, G. and de Foresta, pp. 52-58)


Intensively managed stand of trees of either native or exotic species created by the regular placement of seedlings or seeds (BRS, 1998)

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs)

Non-timber forest products can provide additional income for small forest growers. A wide range of NTFP’s are now exploited commercially and include honey, berries and mushrooms (Lloyd, 1999).


The stakeholder on any issue represents the parties or individuals that the expert source or sources believe are trying to shape the resolution of the issue(s) in question. 

Decision Insights, Inc. (accessed 25/09/01)

Certifiers, Processes and Standards

Types of Certification Standard

Essentially, there are two types of certification used by the forest industry and these can be grouped around performance- or systems-based approaches.

Performance-based management standards are designed to evaluate whether management practices in the forest itself meet specified ecological and social performance measures, and reduce the impacts of logging.

The process or systems-based approach is designed to evaluate whether systems are in place that allow forest managers/owners to achieve and review targets they have set. Usually, it is the system itself, and not the forest that is assessed to determine the success of the standard (FERN, 2001).

The most well-known and widely accepted non-governmental certification organisation is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) formed in 1993. In Europe countries that are signatories to the Helsinki process are seeking to develop third party certification of the Helsinki process, based around “Pan European Forest certification” (PEFC) There are a number of other certification schemes whose status and relationship to other certifying bodies and organisations varies.

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. It is an association of Members consisting of a diverse group of representatives from environmental and social groups, the timber trade and the forestry profession, indigenous people's organisations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organisations from around the world. Membership is open to all who are involved in forestry or forest products and share its aims and objectives. (FSC, 20/9/99)

FSC Principles and Criteria.

  • Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.
  • Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established.
  • The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognised and respected.
  • Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities.
  • Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.
  • Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.
  • A management plan, appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations, shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long-term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated. Monitoring shall be conducted, appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management, to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.
  • Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach.
  • Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with the above Principles. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.
  • Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with the above Principles. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.
  • (accessed 27/08/01)

Australian Forestry Standard

The Australian Federal Government in collaboration with the States is developing an Australian Forestry Standard that incorporates the Montreal C&I, ISO 14000 series, and the Regional Forest Agreements. The Standard is sponsored by Australian Forest growers, Plantations Australia and the National Association of Forest Industries. The initiative falls under the auspices of the Ministerial Council for Forestries Fisheries and Agriculture (MCFFA) and the Standing Committee for Forestry (SCF). Internally, it is comprised of a Steering Committee and Technical Reference Committee. The standards setting process is being overseen by Standards Australia. The AFS is likely to audit only to the forest gate and may have no chain of custody or labelling provisions.

Differing Perspectives: Stakeholder Requirements and Views


The [Tasmanian Forest Practices] Board fosters a partnership between government and private landowners that recognises the rights of landowners and provides benefits in terms of resource security and streamlined approval processes. In return, private landowners agree to comply with the legally enforceable Forest Practices Code. The partnership also recognises the principle of ‘duty of care’, through which landowners have agreed to reserve land from logging, up to prescribed thresholds, in order to protect natural and cultural values. The reservation of land beyond the thresholds is deemed to be for community benefit and on this basis is subject to voluntary arrangements or the payment of compensation.

Wilkinson, Graham (accessed 25/09/01)

Timber industry

Views across the timber industry are not uniform, but they generally argue that intergovernmental processes such as Montreal and Helsinki provide the appropriate operational basis for sustainable forest management and hence certification.

In the US for instance, the American Forest and Paper Association has developed its own “Sustainable Forestry Initiative” (AF&PA, 1996).

National industry bodies are not generally in favour of the guidelines laid down by the Forest Stewardship Council, arguing that NGOs have too much control over the FSC (Forests Forever, 6/9/99).

In Australia, the National Association of Forest Industries supports the Australian Forestry Standard and is hostile towards the FSC ( accessed 28/08/01).

Labour organizations

Sustainable utilisation of forests can be achieved with a modest input of capital and technology. But it calls for a high degree of knowledge and skills during planning and implementation. Sustainable and socially acceptable use of forests requires the following minimum standards, which must be respected in the same way as ecological and forest requirements:

  • Comprehensive training and further training of wood and forestry workers.
  • Securing adequate occupational safety and health, and accident prevention.
  • Employment in permanent and secure jobs.
  • The right to form trade unions (freedom of association) and to collective bargaining as laid down in the Conventions No. 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organisation.
  • The rights of indigenous people must be respected as laid down in Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organisation.

These social considerations must be accepted as binding criteria in forest certification schemes….

Each country should take specific measures to protect the forests and the jobs of workers and demand a plan of action including the cooperation and concerted action of trade unions, employers, research institutes, environmental omm.zations, international omm.zations and governments. (accessed 22/08/01)


To a greater and greater extent, institutional timber investors are choosing to invest in certification under the aegis of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), for their forest investments. While certification is not, at present, a requirement for institutional investment in most parts of the world, its presence or absence affects the required rate of return on investment. In other words, forests with certification are more valuable than those without to many institutional shareholders. FSC is the certification standard best known to such investors; PEFC (Pan European Forest Certification) is building awareness in Europe; and the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) has been created in the U.S. FSC has the strong advantage of consumer credibility, and a better developed marketing campaign…

Of the various certification options, FSC certification is the most expensive (in both time, management attention, and money), certification schemes such as PEFC and SFI less expensive, and no certification the cheapest…

Our experience has been that FSC certification does not impair the basic flexibility of our operations, given that our environmental standards are fairly strong to begin with. The other certification standards have been better tailored by the participants to allow maximum flexibility of operations, with perhaps some sacrifice of credibility to a wider audience. (Greger, 2000)

Environmental Non –Government Organisations (ENGOs)

NGOs remain unconvinced that intergovernmental processes will provide sufficient performance based methodologies for demonstrating sustainable forest management, and that certification schemes derived from such processes are not inclusive of relevant stakeholders (Ozinga, 20-4-99).

Subsequent to its May 2000 statement regarding independent third party forest product certification, the National Forest Summit has agreed to develop a national standard for plantation certification.

This follows from the Summits previous statements opposing the clearing of native forests and woodlands for plantation establishment and supporting the maximum commercially feasible use of existing plantations – under ESD principles – to take the pressure off native forests.

The Summit is now developing ecologically sustainable guidelines for the establishment and management of plantations and is considering the circumstances under which certification would be appropriate. (17th National Forest Summit Media Statement, 06/11/2000)

Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations (IPOs)

Indigenous people remain alienated from stakeholder processes due to a lack of recognition of their prior use of land and a failure to address the spiritual, cultural and customary values of forests. (EU Forest Watch March 1999.

To date, key representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have not been involved in the Australian committees for forest certification and labelling. I am certain that similar situations hold in other nations. That is wrong and needs to be fixed in the guidelines and criteria being developed today. The Committees in Australia appear to be industry run and based on a model of self-regulation by the industry. That model would be difficult to expect to achieve best practice in delivery of cultural and social needs where a corporate bottom line is paramount. One only needs to look at industry regulation in the media, telephones carriers, and the banks to see that social needs are very quickly lost in the dust left behind in the pursuit of profits and shareholder gains. Overseas, a large number of nations handle forest certification and labelling by Government regulation with significant community and NGO input, rather than leaving it to the ravages of the corporate bottom line.

(Dillon, R., Commissioner, “Helping us hear the earth – An indigenous perspective on forest certification and Forest product labelling”, Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Commission, October 2000)

Forest Contact Groups

These are forest users who come from a range of sectors, but are linked in that they all make some use of forest products (Stephens, Michael, AFFA, pers. omm.. 19/08/91).

Uses may be extractive (beekeeping, flowers and other NTFPs) or non-extractive (bushwalking, four-wheel driving, horseriding, etc.).

What Might Agroforestry certification Look Like?

Forest Management for Environmentally-Preferred Markets

A single consistent, and universally recognised set of ecological principles is not available but there are a number of common themes in most theories (Pilarski, 1994, pp. 32-38):

  • Restoration: wherever possible, forestry should aim to benefit the natural forest by increasing diversity in damaged ecosystems. Conservation - and where degraded, enhancement - of biological diversity should be guiding principle. A further assumption would be the replanting of previously cleared forest ecosystems with indigenous stock.
  • Old Growth: most views hold that while it may be theoretically possible to harvest old growth, there should be a moratorium or ban due to current industrial excesses;
  • Timber Harvest Methods: clearcutting should be greatly reduced or banned. Principles based around single-tree selection or "natural selection ecoforestry" would remove a small part of the forests' volume, leaving the best. The forest is thinned from below rather than all-out canopy removal. This is different from classic selective logging which "highgrades" or "thins" leaving a one-aged forest. Even-aged forestry would be replaced by a greater diversity in age classes and species.
  • Reforestation: the emphasis should again be on mixed, indigenous species, with ongoing maintenance and care rather than once-off chemical solutions.
  • Protection of water, soil and habitat: forestry in riparian areas or catchments should not take place. Large numbers of roads should be decommissioned. New roads should follow contours and be narrower, with an emphasis on the use of smaller machinery with less compacting of soils. Burning of slash should be replaced with mulching techniques, while prescribed burning for fuel reduction purposes should be based around protecting residential areas rather than broadscale burn offs which encourage fire-loving species. Chemicals should be abandoned in favour of alternative methods.
  • Non-timber products: a recognition that a forest can provide more than timber; medicines, nuts, mushrooms and so forth.
  • Alternatives to wood products: forests should not necessarily be the only fibre source for the pulp and paper industries.
  • Plantations: Less monoculture, more diversity. Planting and logging methods should avoid the "broadacre" approach. Cleared areas should be smaller and slash should be retained. Chemical use should be avoided (Greenpeace, 1994. pp.31-34).
  • Reserves: A genuine reserve system is needed to counterbalance all areas harvested.
  • Community participation: genuine consultation of indigenous peoples, community groups and environmental NGOs (FSC, 1996).
  • Assessment and monitoring: a comprehensive methodology is required to examine all areas managed for wood production.

Group Certification

Group certification not only works for small forest owners, but was designed for exactly that type of situation so it should be no problem to make it work. In essence what is needed is:

  • A group manager - this can be a person, a company, an association etc. but has to be legally recognisable (in order to sign a certification contract on behalf of the group)
  • A group policy on the type of management required from group members – this is basically an interpretation of the FSC standard for the specific situation of group members and into a language which is familiar and clear to members (which the language of standards often is not).
  • A system for joining the group. This usually involves filling in some forms (forest size, location, production, special features .....), signing a declaration of intention to manage the forest according to the FSC P&C (or the group requirements if there is still suspicion of the FSC itself) in the long term, and a visit by the group manager to ensure the applicant really is meeting all group requirements.
  • A system for ongoing monitoring of members. This can be done by the group manager or members can monitor each other. This latter can work quite well due to the way the certificate is managed (see below)
  • A system for requiring improvements from members and throwing members out of the group.
  • Record keeping.

Once the above is in place the certification body does the assessment in two parts:

  • An assessment of the group management system run by the group manager.
  • An assessment of a random sample of group members.

The result is that it is much cheaper per member than individual certification. The formation of a group also helps with communication of information, training, support and improvement. The disadvantage is that if, when the certification body visits, one group member is not complying, then the whole group is affected. This is why it can work OK to get group members assessing each other because they all know that if they say someone is OK who isn't, and this is picked up by the certification body, then everyone risks losing the certificate.

(Nussbaum, Ruth, SGS Forestry, email to the researcher, 25/9/99)

Working plan for a research trial of relevance to small-scale agroforests and plantations

The author of this paper is developing a certification trial methodology (and timetable) that is structured to emulate what would be required if the landowner were seeking to have their plantation management audited by an independent third party certification agency. The trial itself is not part of a formal certification initiative, but could form the basis of further pursuit of certification based around that management methodology. The scale of the research trial site is predisposed to being part of a larger collection of properties that could be certified under group certification procedures should the trial prove successful.

1.Scoping: Forest Assessment and Stakeholder Consultation

1.1 The area will be assessed for its suitability for harvesting including, soils, aspect, catchment value and biodiversity. Initial removal of a small number of stems will be required to test the suitability of the wood derived from the site for processing.

1.2 Relevant stakeholders will be identified and invited to participate in the planning process to ensure that environmental, cultural and social values have been taken into account during the scoping process. These would include representatives from environmental, indigenous and local community groups (eg Landcare).

2.Management Planning Process

2.1 The proposed trial management will be re-examined in the light of any developments and issues identified by stakeholders.

2.2 A management plan will be drawn up in consultation with stakeholders and covering all relevant issues.

3.Silvicultural and Ecological Considerations

3.1 External advice will be sought from silvicultural and ecological experts as to the merits and problems of the management plan,

3.2 which if necessary, will be emended accordingly to suit the environmental and stakeholder requirements.

4.Harvesting and production

4.1 All forest products removed from the site will be processed at the local mill (belonging to the landowner) and

4.2 will be quarantined to ensure “chain of custody” from the research site.

4.3 The wood products derived from the trial would not be sold on the open market. Instead they would be used for a range of experimental purposes and to gauge the interest of potential buyers should the landowner seek to gain accreditation in the future.


5.1 Monitoring for environmental impacts will occur immediately after harvesting on an ongoing basis

5.2 The strengths/weaknesses of the project will be analysed and documented

5.3 The whole project will be written up and a proposed nationally-applicable management methodology put forward.

Meaningful Participation

Certification and labelling (C&L) of forest products is an important market-oriented outcome for participants in the SFM debate. Successful stakeholder participation in forest management is recognised as an essential component of certification schemes. The 1998 International Union of Forestry Research Organisations acknowledged that there is an urgent need to:

  • obtain consensus on how scientific capability and stakeholder expectations can be brought together in pursuit of ongoing improvement in forest management, and to identify future R&D priorities on sustainability criteria and indicators (IUFRO, 1998)

Internationally, a number of certification and labelling schemes already in place are having a significant impact in the market as consumers shift to environmentally-preferred forest products. Therefore it will be increasingly more important to have measurable C&I of successful participation. Such international trends will inevitably be felt by the forest products industry in Australia, as opportunities for new niche markets will open and the demands of some traditional markets will change.

The use of C&I to reflect stakeholder participation will be an essential tool for measuring the success of the social component of SFM. The extent to which the involvement of forest users in planning for sustainable management can be quantified will become increasingly important for developing systems that meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Mechanics of Participation

Inclusion and integration of participants

The aim of good mechanism should be to develop an educated, informed, active and involved stakeholder base to enable effective and cooperative participation in the forest certification process.

Active participation of stakeholders who have a high degree of ownership of a project from the beginning is the most effective way of ensuring support. The target groups are geographically and socially dispersed. The forest certification process is complicated and confusing and mechanisms incorporating the needs of the target audiences are most likely to be retained and incorporated into subsequent decision making processes.

Types of Non-Government Stakeholder

Non-Government Organisations


This sector is intimately associated with the rights and wrongs of forest management on the ground, and consequently has a wealth of useful knowledge on management. These stakeholders relate to local government and local catchment areas and are a source of knowledge for other NGOs


These groups are seeking to have influence on the State or regional level and interact with State Government and government agencies. They also have national interests in terms of the implication of federal government policies on forests (as do local stakeholders).

This sector is based in the capital cities and rural towns. It is comprised of a wide range of groups with a very diverse set of opinions. Group dynamics are lively in this sector and need to be well managed for negotiations amongst parties to succeed.


These groups are driven by a different set of agenda. They are out there talking face to face with government ministers and prime ministers. Some of them are capable of organising huge numbers of people to persuade the politicians of their intent. Compared to other stakeholders they have potentially wider political and social leverage. Their membership base is generally much larger than the other types of stakeholder.

Role of certifiers

The researcher’s investigations into certification worldwide indicates that some certifiers come into a country with a pre-arranged “participation methodology”. They arrive at the behest of a company usually, and proceed to implement their methodology, largely at several removes from the “stakeholder coalface”.

This kind of approach is not always likely to be successful. Later, as more and more of these processes unfold, some key stakeholders begin to feel disempowered. Most researchers would agree that there has been some backlash to perceived failings of the FSC for instance in this regard. It is the “dance” that happens long before the actual certification process kicks off that is the most significant period. Many companies and certifiers in good faith get involved in a process that they think will work, then wonder why the process collapses.

Ultimately, the various stakeholders must have a degree of ownership in crafting the process from the outset. Circulating two page forms for people to tick boxes “yes/no/don’t know”, informing them they have 28 days to do so, and the next stage will commence (as is the case with some methodologies) is a recipe for disaster. Stakeholders immediately feel like they are dancing to someone else’s tune.

Preliminary assessments: currently, a company hires a certifier who then “consults” with “stakeholders” - instead the certifier must concentrate on developing a process for scoping that is inclusive and driven by stakeholders from the outset. There is too much financial/ethical conflict of interest with the current status quo. NGOs (and various other stakeholders, especially Indigenous people and community interests) are already “unequal partners” from the outset, externalised from a key component in the certification process.

Participation processes: a universal participatory methodological framework needs to be adopted by all certifiers, with the stated aim of identifying, including and bringing all stakeholders together to develop a mutually-owned participation process that leads to a consensus of all parties on a certification standard. Certifiers have too much power, acting according to a pre set methodology and justifying this by insisting this process has stood them in good stead elsewhere and that they know best, even if they are new to a region/country.

Management planning processes are required in which stakeholders not certifiers drive the process. The people who are affected for good and bad by forestry activities may have a lot to contribute. The key issue is to integrate these solutions. The role of the certifier is to facilitate, monitor and record this process to ensure all parties have equal access to decision making fora.

How Might Cross-sectoral Stakeholder Participation in the Certification Process be Measured?

These differing community and industry demands over resource use and access clearly need to be resolved in order to achieve SFM. Agencies involved in the SFM debate have begun to examine what components should be included in C&I for assessing stakeholder involvement in processes for achieving SFM.

Initial research has focussed on developing countries in the tropical and sub-tropical zones. In order to develop participatory C&I of universal relevance, there is a need to expand on existing research and develop a core set of C&I that can also be applied to developed countries and temperate and boreal forest ecosystems. Any new criteria and indicators developed will need to be capable of moving beyond the existing constraints imposed on the implementation of SFM identified in this research. The existing power relationships between stakeholders will be a major factor influencing the development of C&I establishing effective participation.

The use of C&I to reflect stakeholder participation will be an essential tool for measuring the success of the social component of SFM. The extent to which the involvement of forest users in planning for sustainable management can be quantified will become increasingly important for developing systems that meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Criterion “X”

Participatory framework for cross-sectoral and multi-level involvement in sustainable forest management and planning

The intent of this criterion is to ensure that forest management is carried out within a management systems framework that includes stakeholder participation in developing the forest management performance criteria and operational standards. The management planning framework is to be flexible and adaptable to stakeholder participation at all levels, scales and forest types, and provides for continual improvement in participation based on the key elements outlined in X.1-X.3 below

National Indicator: National-level stakeholders, where relevant, participate based around the elements outlined below.

Regional Indicator: Regional (state and local) stakeholders, where relevant, participate based the elements below.

Rationale: It is widely acknowledged that the role of stakeholders in forest management planning is an essential component of SFM. Such participation is a significant component of the social aspect of forest management.



Guide to implementation

The extent to which stakeholder participation in Forest management planning is undertaken in a systematic manner

Participation occurs in a manner that is consistent across regions, forest types and tenures, enabling assessment of participation.

1. Stakeholders/local populations are identified in a consistent manner.
2. Stakeholders are involved in the development of plans.
3. Stakeholders’ contributions are incorporated into the management planning processes and operational guidelines.
4. Processes are in place to check that stakeholders have been included and corrective action is taken to incorporate those overlooked.
5. The extent of participation is assessed.

Type of evaluation


Basis of assessment
That methods are in place to fulfil reporting against indicators 1-5

Sources of information
Policy and procedural documentation
Updating and monitoring
Periodic checking for changes in stakeholder sectors and their incorporation into the participatory processes.

Stakeholders are included on all relevant levels by:

  • Identifying key players;
  • Seeking advice from participants as to who else should be included;
  • Public announcements seeking stakeholder input;
  • Ensuring adequate representation at all relevant fora of all relevant participants;

Sources of information
Media, community directories, personal interviews.



Guide to implementation

The extent to which forest managers develop an educated, informed, active and involved stakeholder base to enable effective and cooperative participation in the forest certification process

Managers and agencies are able to demonstrate that they have engaged stakeholders in the forest management planning process

1. Stakeholders/local populations participate in forest management.
1.1 Effective mechanisms exist for two-way communication related to forest management among stakeholders.
1.2 Forest-dependent people and company officials understand each others plans and interests.
2. Forest-dependent people/stakeholders have the right to help monitor forest utilisation.
2.1 Conflicts are minimal or settled.
Responsibility is assigned for establishing, implementing and maintaining a systematic approach to participation in relevant forest management performance criteria and requirements;
The organisation/owner has capacity to establish, implement and maintain stakeholder participation methodologies;
There is a process whereby staff/employees/operators are made aware of their responsibilities and other requirements;
There is a process whereby commitment to participatory planning is established, reinforced and communicated to employees/staff/ operators

Type of evaluation
Document- and field-based

Basis of assessment
That a participatory process for developing forest management performance criteria and requirements is in place;
That there is ongoing development of awareness, personal commitment, motivation and leadership from top management or owner to systematic management and continuous improvement in environmental performance.

Sources of information
Policy statement
Updating and monitoring
Periodic checking for changes in legal and other requirements and their incorporation into the participatory processes.

The Policy could include a statement on:

  • the core values and beliefs and mission of the manager in relation to pursuing stakeholder participation under the AFS;
  • an awareness of and commitment to continual improvement in participatory processes;
  • compliance with relevant environmental regulations, laws and other criteria to which the manager subscribes;
  • requirements of and communication with interested parties;
  • the key objectives and targets of participation in relation to the development of forest management performance criteria and requirements;

Scope of the policy:

  • commensurate with nature, scale of ownership and environmental aspects [define] of the activities of the organisation so that it is achievable;
  • brief and written in plain English or translated where English is a second language;
  • publicly available;
  • include a consultative mechanism provided to consider the views of interested parties, where appropriate, to broaden the information and decision making base;
  • Relevant to all levels of stakeholder participation (national, regional, local, forest management unit)

Interested parties may include:

  • neighbours;
  • local councils;
  • regulatory authorities;
  • unions;
  • employees;
  • environmental non-government organisations;
  • community groups;
  • Indigenous Peoples’ organsations
  • Recreational users
  • Forest users

Sources of information
Forest Management Performance Criteria and Requirements;
Academic research on participatory processes
All levels of Government, including Regulatory Authorities, Government Agencies and associated web sites and informative material;
AS/NZS ISO 14001:1996 Environmental Management Systems – Specification with guidance for use;
Other forest certification agencies’ principles, criteria and indicators
Organisation’s values, beliefs and strategic plans;
Industry Associations, Professional Institutions and Groups;
Professional services.



Guide to implementation

Encourages forest managers and or/relavant agencies to:

a) facilitate, monitor and record participation to ensure all parties have equal access to and ownership of the decision making fora;

b) commit to openness transparency and access to information to enable stakeholders to participate at all levels and in all fora where decisions regarding forest policy, management and operational guidelines are developed.

Forest managers/agencies provide stakeholders with the opportunity to have input into the forest management planning processes

1. Materials collected and generated during all stages of planning are made available to all participants.
2. Participatory processes foster increased levels of community participation in landscape mapping and planning, with all stakeholders able to participate on an equitable basis;
2.1 participatory planning contributes to the social, cultural and long-term economic wellbeing of the community, especially local and Indigenous communities and traditional owners;
3. stakeholders have open access to all relevant information and data, including from industry and Government agencies.
4. evidence of Social, environmental, economic and heritage impact assessment;
5. Evidence that stakeholders have been included in all fora associated with forest policy, management and operational guidelines.

Type of evaluation
Document- and field-based

Basis of assessment
A survey undertaken will determine who should participate, and key persons not captured by the survey will also be contacted. It is essential that the selected group of stakeholders represents as full a range of views as possible;
All "levels" of participants must be able to claim ownership of the process; no grouping with a legitimate and representative mandate can be alienated if the process is to succeed

Adequate resourcing is required to identify, inform and enable all relevant local, regional, national and sectoral stakeholders to participate in the certification process, in particular Traditional owners, from the outset.


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1 Tim Cadman MA is a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, and a PhD student in Applied Science at Canberra University. He specialises in research into sustainable forest management and certification and labelling. He is a founding member of the international NGO, Native Forest Network, Director of the New South Wales based Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd., Advisory Board Member of the Terra Nature Fund and a member of the Forest Stewardship Council (Environmental Chamber). Current Research Affiliations: n; Friends of the Earth – Australia (Research Associate). His latest papers can be seen at: A bibliography for this poster paper is available on request:

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