© J.M.D.Smallholders, family forest owners and forest communities worldwide are key stakeholders in responsible forest management.
Nearly half of Europe’s forest land, for example, is owned by private individuals who often manage very small plots.
Yet smallholders often face a multitude of challenges in meeting the requirements of FSC certification processes and standards.
Our work to support smallholder certification began nearly a decade ago. In 2004, Small and Low-Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMFs) were defined as a distinct client for FSC certification, and have benefited from streamlined audit procedures.
But despite SLIMF procedures, which have been adapted into many FSC National Standards, problems have continued. Sometimes, smallholders lack resources to comply with the FSC Principles and Criteria, or may need to find support in translating the technical language of audit reports or forest management requirements. They may want to seek technical training themselves, but professional courses can be costly and unavailable locally.
Although FSC certification can give producers access to a price premium, smaller businesses are less able to access investment finance because their size increases risk. Furthermore, it can be difficult for smallholders to access markets and long-term commitments from buyers.