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Challenges facing certification and eco-labelling of forest products in developing countries

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Certification has been developed as an instrument for promoting sustainable forest management. Although the initial focus of certification was on tropical forests, it rapidly shifted to encompass all forest types. Ten years after the first certification schemes were developed, most (91.8 percent) of the 271 million hectares of forests that have been certified are located in Europe and North America. Only 13 percent of certified forests are located in developing countries and only 5 percent of the certified forests are located in the tropics. Among the reasons for this disparity are: weak market demand for certified products in global markets; wide gaps between existing management standards and certification requirements; weak implementation of national forest legislation, policies and programs in developing countries; insufficient capacity to implement sustainable forest management at the forest management unit level and to develop standards and delivery mechanisms; and the high direct and indirect costs of obtaining certification in developing countries. Despite these challenges and constraints, many developing countries remain interested in pursuing certification. Several promising developments have recently emerged that may give further encouragement to developing countries' efforts, including supportive codes of forestry practice, stepwise approaches to certification and increasing interest in forest certification and certified products in the Asia-Pacific region.
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Keywords: developing countries; forest certification; sustainable forest management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand.

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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