The Continuous Improvement Procedure is based on the idea that sustainability, rather than a fixed objective, is a path. It invites smallholder and communities to become part of the global FSC community of certificate holders without having perfect responsible management in place. It´s enough to have initiated and implemented crucial measures and to commit to continue the path of sustainability together with FSC, by improving forest management practices step-by-step and to conform with all requirements of the FSC standard within 5 years.
Certification is a long and costly process and the longer it takes to reach all of the requirements the longer the forest owners are unable to capture market benefits of certification. This procedure will provide a flexible approach and allow certificate holders to access market benefits to further support their certification costs. It will also help make it clear what are the next steps towards gaining full certification.
When finished, some sample users could be:
- Community forests in Honduras using their timber to create certified furniture interested in connecting with international markets.
- Families with forest land in Brazil looking to expand beyond Brazil Nuts and latex wanting to certify their timber to increase revenues.
- Villages in Indonesia come together to form a cooperative and certify their teak.
To stay tuned with the development of this innovative procedure, check out the process page here.
Without sufficient resources and understanding, many smallholders and communities find it hard to fully conform with FSC standards. The concept of continuous improvement – whereby smallholders are able to take a step-wise approach to conformance, focusing on the most important criteria first and then working their way up – is not new; it has been used by other certification schemes. But FSC has been working hard to formalise an approach to continuous improvement in forestry that works for smallholders that want to make use of the FSC system.