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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Technical Updates

Reaching Smallholders in the Global South: Discussion Paper Now Open for 30-Day Consultation

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

WE CERTIFY FORESTS BIG AND SMALL – So we understand that these forests are, in turn, managed by individuals and groups of all shapes and sizes. You may not know, for example, that nearly half of Europe’s forest land is owned by private individuals who often manage very small plots. Those forest managers – known as smallholders or small and community producers – who take care of a small area of forest can include Indigenous Peoples, communities, and family foresters, who practice low-intensity forest management. (© FSC GD/Christian Irrgang)© FSC GD/Christian Irrgang

In 2018, and with the aim of increasing the number of smallholders in the FSC system and total forest area coverage, the New Approaches to Smallholder Certification project will trail two step-wise approaches – ‘continuous improvement’ and ‘modular approach programme’. A discussion paper explaining both concepts is open for consultation from 7 November to 7 December 2017.

A step-wise approach treats certification as a journey and focuses on empowering smallholders to become and stay certified. FSC has explored two step-wise approaches and found that simplicity and flexibility are vital for successful uptake of certification by smallholders in the global South.

Step-wise approach 1: ‘Continuous improvement’

One approach to smallholder certification is known as ‘continuous improvement’ and allows smallholders to be certified from the start of their journey and offers flexible steps towards full compliance with applicable requirements within a defined time frame.

Step-wise approach 2: ‘Modular approach programme’

The modular approach programme (MAP) was developed to allow smallholders to achieve full compliance with the applicable national standard over a five-year period. It was developed by FSC between 2009 and 2012.

Several institutions have implemented step-wise approaches towards certification for their smallholders in the global South. Early indications show that this has led to successful uptake in terms of certificates issued and increase in area certified. These two step-wise approaches have been selected for trial in 2018.


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding the two step-wise approach concepts, please contact Annah Agasha at a.agasha@fsc.org. For questions about the smallholder implementation project team’s activities related to the normative framework, please contact team lead, Vera Santos at v.santos@fsc.org.

Click here to participate in the consultation now