Certification for small-forest owners
Group certification is our alternative approach to individual certification, enabling the certification of multiple forest owners as a group. Designed specifically for small-, family and community owned forests; it ensures PEFC certification is affordable and practical.
We developed group certification nearly two decades ago, and now around one million small-forest owners have achieved PEFC certification through group certification. This is a testimony to the fact that forest certification is possible for small landholders.
How it works
Rather than selecting a certification body and going through the certification process alone, instead you will need to find and join a 'group' within your country.
Several models for organizing the group have been developed. In some countries, groups are determined at a regional/jurisdictional level. In other countries, forest associations have formed group certification for their members. In others, groups are open to all regardless of location or affiliation. Just check the options available in your country.
A group entity represents the group, with the overall responsibility for ensuring the forest management practices of the individual forest owners within the certified area conform with the PEFC requirements.
By joining the group, you are required to comply with all requirements, provide full cooperation and assistance in the implementation of forest certification, and are obliged to implement relevant corrective and preventive actions established by the group entity.
The certification costs are reduced, because not every forest owner is audited by the certification body responsible for assessing the forest management practices against the PEFC requirements. Instead, the certification body audit of the group certificate covers a sample of the group members. For example, the certification body may visit four forests out of a total of twelve.
The operational cost can also be reduced as certain activities (e.g. management planning, monitoring) can be carried out at group level. Also, the group entity can provide assistance to forest owners that need to bring their operations in compliance with the requirements of the standard.
Sampling is possible because all forest owners within the group are covered by the internal audit that the group entity performs annually. The group entity is always part of the external audit, and the certification body will check the quality and results of the internal audit in that process.
If you are a small-forest owner and would like to find out more about group certification within your country, please visit your national PEFC website. This will provide you with information on how to join a group, the costs involved, and any further support you may require. As with individual sustainable forest management certification, group certification is only available in countries with a PEFC-endorsed national forest certification system.