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Forest Management Certification
Ensuring best practices in the forest

FSC Forest Management certification confirms that a specific area of forest is being managed in line with the FSC Principles & Criteria.

To achieve FSC Forest Management certification, the forest manager (or owner) contracts an FSC accredited certification body to carry out an assessment.

The certification body normally carries out a brief pre-assessment to allow them to flag up any areas where management may not meet the applicable requirements. Once the forest manager is sure they have filled any gaps, they can apply for a full evaluation.

The main evaluation process is an in depth review of the forest management systems and their results on the ground. The certification body sends a team of experts to assess social, economic and environmental conditions at the forest being evaluated. 

At the end of the evaluation, the assessment team reports to the forest manager any areas where management does not meet the applicable requirements, known as ‘non-conformities’. If these are minor non-conformities, the certification body can issue a certificate, on condition that actions will be taken to deal with the non-conformities. If these are major non-conformities, the certification body will not issue a certificate until the non-conformities have been solved.

Forest Management certificates are valid for five years, subject to annual checks. All FSC Forest Management certificates can be found here. Smallholders, communities, indigenous people and forest owners who practice low intensity management can find the forest management certification assessment to be disproportionately expensive and complex for their situation. 

For this reason, FSC has a dedicated program for supporting these operations, which provides streamlined certification requirements, technical guidance, specialized training and other resources, to bring the benefits of certification to small and community producers. Check the 'Smallholders Portal' for more information.