© Columbia Forest ProductsSmall and community producers that qualify as small in area or low-intensity in terms of harvest can also form a group (or create a sub-group in their existing group) to reduce their certification costs even further.
FSC group certification allows a group of forest owners to join together under a single FSC certificate organized by a group manager. The group members share certification costs among themselves. Group certification reduces the cost and workload for each group member related to achieving and maintaining an FSC certificate. The number of group members is not limited, but the group has to be managed effectively and function according to FSC rules.
The group has to choose a group manager. This person or organization will have the main responsibility for ensuring that the forest management of group members meets the FSC requirements for certification and has to reports to the auditor on their internal monitoring.
The group manager will typically have the following responsibilities:
- Apply for group certification with a certification body
- Act as contact point for the certification body
- Inform the group about their responsibilities
- Make sure that all group members are meeting the FSC forest management requirements
- Monitor all of the group members and organize internal auditing
- Keep records of e.g. lists of group members, forest areas and results of the internal audits
The group members also have some responsibilities. They are typically:
- Manage their forests according to the FSC requirements
- Agree to the rules of the group scheme
- Confirm that the group manager will apply for an FSC certificate on their behalf through a contract with the group manager