Project title

Smallholders Access Program pilot test (USA)


Pilot test

Start date

April 2019

End date

June 2022


To assess the feasibility of the Smallholder Access Program (SAP) simplified standard developed by Rainforest Alliance, as part of their Appalachian Woodland Alliance program. The SAP proposes a process for smallholders to temporarily join an FSC-certified forest management group. By joining these groups, small forest owners (>100ha) improve their forest management practices; legal compliance is guaranteed; and there is an increase of FSC-certified material availability.

Strategic alignment

At the 2017 General Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, the membership approved Motion 46 that recommended the New Approaches project to conduct several pilot tests to assess the feasibility of different approaches that can improve uptake and maintenance of certification by small forest owners and communities.


September 2021

A total of 22 SAP harvest units have been successfully enrolled in the pilot test, despite challenges caused by COVID-19, weather and trade conflicts.

​​​​​​​March 2021

The FSC Board of Directors approved the extension of the pilot test by 14 months until June 2022.

December 2020

The learnings and findings from year 1 were presented to Policy Steering Group (PSG), as well as some policy changes.

June 2020

A total of 13 SAP harvest units have been successfully enrolled in the pilot test, despite restrictions caused by COVID-19.

March 2020

FSC published factsheet on the Smallholder Access Pilot test. Read it here

December 2019
First site visit by project team FSC US and RA was held
November 2019
First SAP harvest unit was signed up
Fall - Winter 2019
On the ground evaluations during the on-site surveillance audits
Summer 2019

Successful round of preliminary desk audits performed in all pilot test participants

July 2019
​​​​​Pilot test participants chosen and process launched.
February 2019
Open call for certificate holders and certification bodies to participate in the pilot test.

Read news item

January 2019
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved.
November 2018
Approval by FSC Board of Directors of the pilot test proposal
October 2018
Pilot test proposal evaluated by the Policy and Standards Committee (PSC)
Factsheet_Smallholders Access Program.pdf
PDF, Size: 428.02KB