Increasing international concern over the sustainability of forest resources, biodiversity, and deforestation has drawn attention to what is happening in developing countries, Russia, and Eastern Europe. These regions contain much of the world’s remaining forestlands. After many attempts to create binding international agreements and policies to reduce the adverse effects of forest trade on forest resources and forest-dependent communities, forest certification has emerged as an innovative and promising policy instrument.

Explicitly designed to integrate and protect environmental, social, and economic values, forest certification turns to the market, rather than government, to promote policy change. Forest owners support certification for potential market access, price premiums, and greater market share. Companies further down the supply chain are encouraged to adopt certification-friendly purchasing policies in order to strengthen market incentives. Advocates for certification hope it will advance sustainable forest management in ways more effective and practical than governmental policies and boycott campaigns.

Important questions remain unanswered. A decade after the introduction of forest certification, questions regarding its effects persist, especially when applied to developing countries and countries in transition. What social effects has forest certification had on forest communities, economics and ecology? Has certification improved, or stabilized, the ecology of the regions in question? How has certification improved the economic base of the region studied? This project explored such questions within the 16 countries where forest certification is taking place.

To learn more about forest certification, please refer to the Links section of this website, or refer to the Yale Program on Forest Certification’s website.