Forest product certification1 is a voluntary, market-driven initiative that seeks to label products from forests which are managed according to internationally accepted stewardship principles.
Certification involves two aspects:
One is an independent assessment of the forest management operation, according to specific ecological, social and economic standards.
This forest assessment typically includes an evaluation of:
1. The ecological health of the forest;
2. The economic viability of the operation; and,
3. The social impact of the forest management activities.
The second aspect, called chain-of-custody inspection, involves verifying the flow of forest products from the stump in the forest, through milling and manufacturing processes, to the finished product. Together, these two processes constitute forest product certification, also known as timber certification, forest product labelling, and forest management auditing. This process, which is currently carried-out by both non-profit and for-profit organisations in a number of countries, is characterised as being an independent, objective, and third-party process.
The objective of certification is to assure consumers that their purchases of forest products do not contribute to the destruction and degradation of the world's forests. Independent forest product certification may also be a means through which producers can achieve public credibility and recognition regarding their forest management practices.
1. See also Forest Stewardship Principles