FSC is looking to differentiate products from communities and smallholders in the marketplace in order to bring them more market benefits. FSC’s Global Strategy clearly identifies increasing access to FSC certification for these producers as an important issue.
Smallholders and communities often face tough competition in the global timber market. This pilot project with Fairtrade International and ICCO aims to test the concept of dual labelling for smallholders and communities in developing countries. If it is successful, it will be the basis for developing an affordable and accessible dual certification system that will ultimately be incorporated into the existing FSC and Fairtrade certification systems.
In 2007, FSC and FLO first explored the potential role of Fairtrade in creating market opportunities for community-based foresters. The research identified market interest for a credible system to distinguish community forest products, and that co-operation between FSC and Fairtrade would be the ideal basis for such a system. These findings are detailed in “Distinguishing community products in the market”, published in February 2008.
A follow-up feasibility study analyzed the ‘fit’ between FSC certified forest products and the Fairtrade portfolio. It considers in more depth the issues related to standards and certification-system-development that would need to be tacked in order to make dual certification a reality.
The study concluded a strong case for the development of FSC and Fairtrade dual-certification that could ultimately benefit millions of forest-dwelling and forest-dependent people.
The project began in summer 2009. A project coordinator began identifying potential supply chains for dual certification, including producers, manufacturers, traders, and retailers. Requirements of the pilot project were that the producers be community, small, or low-intensity timber operations in developing countries that were already FSC certified, and that the retailers be located in Europe.
In early 2010, Fairtrade developed timber standards and compliance criteria for timber. These were based on a gap analysis of the FSC Principles and Criteria and applicable Fairtrade standards. To date these standards have been used to certify a community forestry operation in Honduras and a group of small/low intensity producers in Chile; another group of small/low intensity producers was assessed for Fairtrade timber certification in Bolivia. All of these producers were previously FSC certified. Final negotiations between retailers and producers are taking place, and the first dual certified products are expected to be in markets in fall 2011.
The potential benefits of dual labelling for smallholders and communities include use of both the FSC and Fairtrade labels, entrance to new markets, agreed upon minimum prices, and guaranteed price premiums, which will go to a Social Fund for use by the producers.
The pilot project is expected to run through December 2013. The remainder of the project will focus on monitoring and evaluation of the existing pilot supply chains rather than adding new supply chains. The FSC and Fairtrade Boards of Directors will decided, based on the project results if dual certification will continue in the future.
In 2009, FSC began identifying potential producers, manufacturers, traders and retailers for dual certification. Producers had to be classified as community, small or low-intensity timber operations, be located in a developing country, and already be FSC certified. Retailers had to be located in Europe.
In 2010, Fairtrade developed standards and compliance criteria for timber, based on a gap analysis of the FSC Principles and Criteria and applicable Fairtrade standards. These standards have been used to certify a community forestry operation in Honduras, and small/low-intensity producer groups in Chile and Bolivia. All were previously FSC certified. The first dual-certified furniture products hit German stores in early 2012.
All products from the project were dual certified as ‘100% from small or community-based forest enterprises that are both FSC and Fairtrade certified’. Dual certification provides smallholders and communities with access to new markets, agreed minimum prices, pre-financing from buyers and guaranteed price premiums, and will contribute to a social fund for the producers.
FSC and Fairtrade will monitor and evaluate the impacts of the project for the producers, traders, and retailers. They will also analyze ways to simplify the dual certification process for producers. Following an evaluation at the end of the pilot project in December 2013 both organizations will agree on future actions.
On 17 January 2012, furniture made from FSC and Fairtrade dual-certified wood was launched at the International Furniture Trade Fair in Cologne, Germany. The first collection, designed and provided by Agentur Gansbuehler and named ‘Veracruz’, includes coffee tables, sideboards, chairs and a dining table. The German stores memo AG, Otto, Segmüller, Schaffrath and Schongau have these products in their catalogs and/or showrooms.
FSC–Fairtrade Dual Certification Project Manager
mail to: Antonia.renn at fsc-deutschland point de