The long and winding road to FSC certification has now become manageable for small-scale forest owners too. The answer is group certification. Acting in the role of group manager, BillerudKorsnäs works together with forest owners to help them obtain certificates.
- “They qualify to sell their wood on the same terms as the big forest operations, increase the value of their product, and get better paid for it too.”
Half of Sweden’s forested area consists of small private landholdings held by some 330,000 forest owners. The average landholding is no bigger than 50 hectares and many owners do not live on site. For many of them, FSC certification is probably associated with too much bother and excessive cost.
Help for smallholders
“FSC certification is an assurance that a forest or plantation is responsibly managed in an economic, social and environmental sense,” explains Bengt Brunberg, Sustainability Manager, BillerudKorsnäs.
“Generally speaking, economic and social criteria do not pose a problem in Swedish forestry. However, the environmental criteria can often require a number of modifications to how the forest is managed. These include setting aside five percent of the productive forest area for nature conservation. The five percent should be an area selected for its high conservation value and ability to ensure the long-term survival of rare ecosystems and species. In addition, the overall conservation programme for a forest holding takes into account a range of biodiversity indicators, such as the mix of tree species, dead wood, conservation-value trees, bodies of water, and so on. BillerudKorsnäs helps owners of small forest holdings to assess their conservation value and select a suitable area to reserve for conservation, which is then documented in a forest management plan.”
Group certifications an option
Forest owners and BillerudKorsnäs share an interest in getting the forests certified. BillerudKorsnäs’ customers demand certified wood and BIllerudKorsnäs wants to help its large number of small suppliers to qualify for certification. Under a new standard that took effect in June 2010, forest owners can now join together under a single FSC certificate. BillerudKorsnäs can act as coordinator for group certification by providing the expertise to manage the certification process and ensuring, together with the forest owners, that all forest holdings comply with FSC requirements. This is verified by both internal audits and a yearly audit by an independent body. BillerudKorsnäs also pays a surcharge on the certified timber in order to make the private forest holdings a viable source of supply.
“This group approach makes FSC certification affordable for small forest owners,” Bengt Brunberg says.
“They qualify to sell their wood on the same terms as the big forest operations, increase the value of their product, and get better paid for it too.”