FSC International – Forests for All Forever

Facts & Figures

199,966,517 ha certified
38,542 CoC certificates
1,638 FM/CoC certificates

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Supporting smallholders and communities to become FSC certified

© FSC Germany

We certify forests big and small

Forest smallholders – forest communities and private small-forest owners – are a critical part of the FSC system. The specific challenges that smallholders face are not only linked to the requirements of FSC certification, which are sometimes too complex or costly for them, but also to marketing and their lack of resources to secure and maintain multiple revenue streams.

From its early years, FSC has developed a series of tools and mechanisms to support smallholders to become FSC certified. This includes not only streamlined requirements or resources such as the creation of group certificates, but also funds and specific market labels to help them establish and maintain value chains.

SLIMF certification

A small or low-intensity managed forest, or SLIMF, can qualify for streamlined requirements and auditing procedures that reduce the cost of implementation and audit.

Many countries include specific forest management requirements for SLIMF in their national standards, aimed at facilitating the certification process for smallholders. Check your national standard here, or talk to your national or regional office to find out if this is the case in your country.

Similarly, the auditing process can be adapted for the case of SLIMF operations. Learn about the eligibility criteria for SLIMF that certification bodies use to determine if a forest is eligible.


To reduce certification costs and workload, FSC certificate holders can also form a group. Group certification makes it easier particularly for smallholders to become FSC certified, as it enables group members to share certification costs among themselves, reducing the cost and workload for each member related to achieving and maintaining an FSC certificate. Learn more about FSC group certification.


In 2016, FSC established the New Approaches project to develop alternative and additional ways to support smallholders and communities achieve certification.

The activities currently under development by this project are: 

Streamlining National Standards FSC is exploring if we can go step a further from the SLIMF requirements and develop radically simplified standards for smallholders through three pilot experiences in China, UK, and USA. Click on each country to learn more about these initiatives.
Group Certification Standard (FSC-STD-30-005) The activities related to the group certification standard include testing a new group model type that incorporates forestry contractors as members of the group; and managing the regular official revision of the group standard.
Forestry Contractors The purpose of this activity is to examine possible entry points for forestry contractors in FSC certification, to reduce the workload and the expert knowledge needed by smallholders.
Step-wise approaches Generate recommendations for FSC on how to integrate and implement ‘continuous improvement’ in the FSC system, tailored to the specificities of the regions in which the activities are being tested: Latin America, East Africa and Asia-Pacific. This activity is also taking into consideration the outcomes of the work developed by the Motion 2014:83 working group.