Demonstrating Impacts

We are dedicated to compiling evidence to demonstrate outcomes and impacts of FSC certification. Currently, the two main sources of evidence are internally generated data and independent scientific studies.

FSC Impact Demonstrating Impact
FSC GD / Arturo Escobar

Internally generated data

Each FSC-certified forest must have an annual assessment carried out by an FSC-accredited certification body. In the event that forest management does not meet FSC requirements, corrective actions are requested by certification bodies for forest managers to gain, or maintain, FSC certification. Such actions are called corrective action requests (CARs).

CARs focus on several indicators related to FSC standards, such as ecosystem services, biodiversity, health and safety, etc. For each certification assessment, certification bodies produce a report that contains information about the certified forest management unit, including CARs that have been issued.

We make these reports available in the FSC certificate holder database to allow anybody to access information from certification assessments. The analysis of CARs provides some insights into the impacts resulting from FSC certification. Examples of CARs analysis conducted by independent researchers can be found below.

Independent scientific research

  1. Operational-level changes for compliance with FSC standards

    The first main category includes studies that focus on how forest managers must modify their practices to comply with FSC standards. This concerns, for example, analyses of CARs issued by certification bodies when forest operations are not in compliance with FSC standards, or analyses of FSC national standard content and their added-value compared to national requirements.

    Although such studies do not provide on-the-ground evidence of impact, they link FSC Principles and Criteria with changes in practices at the operational-level.

    See more

    • Ruslandi, Klassen, A., Romero, C., Putz, F.E., 2014. Forest Stewardship Council certification of natural forest management in Indonesia: required improvements, costs, incentives, and barriers. For. under Press.  Local responses to Glob. issues 255–273. 

    • Savilaakso, S., Cerutti, P.O., Montoya Zumaeta, J.G., Ruslandi, Mendoula, E.E., Tsanga, R., 2017. Timber certification as a catalyst for change in forest governance in Cameroon, Indonesia, and Peru. Int. J. Biodivers. Sci. Ecosyst. Serv. Manag. 13, 116–133. 

    • Sugiura, K., Yoshioka, T., Inoue, K., 2013. Improvement of forest management in Asia, through assessment of Forest Stewardship Council certification. Forest Sci. Technol. 9, 164–170. 

    • Teitelbaum, S., Wyatt, S., 2013. Is forest certification delivering on First Nation issues? The effectiveness of the FSC standard in advancing First Nations’ rights in the boreal forests of Ontario and Quebec, Canada. For. Policy Econ. 27, 23–33. 

    • Tricallotis, M., Gunningham, N., Kanowski, P., 2018. The impacts of forest certification for Chilean forestry businesses. For. Policy Econ. 92, 82–91. 

  2. Evidence-based impact studies

    The second main category includes studies that aim to provide evidence of outcomes and impacts related to FSC certification.

    The most important evidence-based studies compare FSC-certified forest management with uncertified, or conventional, forest management. They aim to isolate the specific added-value of FSC certification.

    Other studies compare, for example, pre- and post-certified logging interventions, or certified logging with forest uses or forest management, with goals other than timber extraction (e.g. protected areas).

    By design, such case studies cannot isolate the effect of FSC certification from forest management or logging in general. However, they remain informative because they present FSC certification in a broader context.

    Finally, some case studies remain observational (no comparison is made), in which case reported effects can only be associated with, and not attributed to, FSC certification.

    - Broad-ranging evaluations and reviews 

    • Burivalova, Z., Hua, F., Koh, L.P., Garcia, C., Putz, F.E., 2017. A critical comparison of conventional, certified, and community management of tropical forests for timber in terms of environmental, economic, and social variables. Conserv. Lett. 10, 4–14. 

    • Carlson, A., Palmer, C., 2016. A qualitative meta-synthesis of the benefits of eco-labeling in developing countries. Ecol. Econ. 127, 129–145. 

    • Cashore, B., Gale, F., Meidinger, E., Newsom, D., 2006. Forest certification in developing and transitioning countries...Part of a sustainable future? Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. 


     - Environmental aspects 

    • Bahaa-el-din, L., Sollmann, R., Hunter, L.T.B., Slotow, R., Macdonald, D.W., Henschel, P., 2016. Effects of human land-use on Africa’s only forest-dependent felid: the African golden cat Caracal aurata. Biol. Conserv. 199, 1–9. 

    • Blackman, A., Goff, L., Rivera Planter, M., 2018. Does eco-certification stem tropical deforestation? Forest Stewardship Council certification in Mexico. J. Environ. Econ. Manage. 89, 306–333. 

    • Dias, F.S., Bugalho, M.N., Rodriguez-Gonzalez, P.M., Albuquerque, A., Cerdeira, J.O., 2015. Effects of forest certification on the ecological condition of Mediterranean streams. J. Appl. Ecol. 52, 190–198. 

    • Di Girolami, Erica, and B. J. M. Arts. Environmental impacts of forest certifications. Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, WU, 2018. 

    • Foster, B.C., Wang, D., Keeton, W.S., 2008. An exploratory, post-harvest comparison of ecological and economic characteristics of forest stewardship council certified and uncertified Northern hardwood stands. J. Sustain. For. 26, 171–191. 

    • Griscom, B.W., Goodman, R.C., Burivalova, Z., Putz, F.E., 2018. Carbon and biodiversity impacts of intensive versus extensive tropical forestry. Conserv. Lett. 11, 1–9. 

    • Heilmayr, R., Lambin, E.F., 2016. Impacts of nonstate, market-driven governance on Chilean forests. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113, 2910–2915. 

    • Imai, N., Samejima, H., Langner, A., Ong, R.C., Kita, S., Titin, J., Chung, A.Y.C., Lagan, P., Lee, Y., Kitayama, K., 2009. Co-benefits of sustainable forest management in biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. PLoS One 4. 

    • Kleinschroth, F., Healey, J.R., Gourlet-Fleury, S., Mortier, F., Stoica, R.S., 2017. Effects of logging on roadless space in intact forest landscapes of the Congo Basin. Conserv. Biol. 31, 469–480. 

    • Komives, K., Arton, A., Baker, E., Kennedy, E., Longo, C., Newsom, D., Pfaff, A., Romero, C., 2018. How has our understanding of the conservation impacts of voluntary sustainability standards changed since the 2012 publication of “Toward sustainability: the roles and limitations of certification?” Meridian. Washington DC. 

    • Kukkonen, M., Hohnwald, S., 2009. Comparing floristic composition in treefall gaps of certified, conventionally managed and natural forests of northern Honduras. Ann. For. Sci. 66, 809–809. 

    • Medjibe, V.P., Putz, F.E., Romero, C., 2013. Certified and uncertified logging concessions compared in Gabon: Changes in stand structure, tree species, and biomass. Environ. Manage. 51, 524–540. 

    • Melendy, L., Hagen, S.C., Sullivan, F.B., Pearson, T.R.H., Walker, S.M., Ellis, P.W., Kustiyo, Sambodo, A.K., Roswintiarti, O., Hanson, M.A., Klassen, A.W., Palace, M.W., Braswell, B.H., Delgado, G.M., 2018. Automated method for measuring the extent of selective logging damage with airborne LiDAR data. ISPRS J. Photogramm. Remote Sens. 

    • Miteva, D.A., Loucks, C.J., Pattanayak, S.K., 2015. Social and environmental impacts of forest management certification in Indonesia. PLoS One 10, 1–18. 

    • Panlasigui, S., Rico-Straffon, J., Swenson, J., Loucks, C.J., Pfaff, A., 2015. Early days in the certification of logging concessions: estimating FSC ’s deforestation impact in Peru and Cameroon. 

    • Rana, P., Sills, E.O., 2018. Does certification change the trajectory of tree cover in working forests in the tropics? An application of the synthetic control method of impact evaluation. Forests 9. 

    • Rico, J., Panlasigui, S., Loucks, C.J., Swenson, J., Pfaff, A., 2017. Logging concessions, certification and protected areas in the Peruvian Amazon: forest impacts from development rights and land-use restrictions. 

    • Sollmann, R., Mohamed, A., Niedballa, J., Bender, J., Ambu, L., Lagan, P., Mannan, S., Ong, R.C., Langner, A., Gardner, B., Wilting, A., 2017. Quantifying mammal biodiversity co-benefits in certified tropical forests. Divers. Distrib. 23, 317–328. 

    • Tritsch, I., Sist, P., Narvaes, I. da S., Mazzei, L., Blanc, L., Bourgoin, C., Cornu, G., Gond, V., 2016. Multiple patterns of forest disturbance and logging shape forest landscapes in Paragominas, Brazil. Forests 7, 1–15. 


     - Social aspects 

    • Cerutti, P.O., Lescuyer, G., Tsanga, R., Kassa, S.N., Mapangou, P.R., Mendoula, E.E., Missamba-Lola, A.P., Nasi, R., Eckebil, P.P.T., Yembe, R.Y., 2016. Social impacts of the Forest Stewardship Council certification: An assessment in the Congo basin. Int. For. Rev.<br /> 

    • Humphries, S.S., 2005. Forest certification for community-based forest enterprises in Brazil’s Western Amazon: local stakeholders’ perceptions of negative and positive aspects of certification and how to improve the certification process. University of Florida. 

    • Kalonga, S.K., Kulindwa, K.A., Mshale, B.I., 2015. Equity in distribution of proceeds from forest products from certified community-based forest management in Kilwa District, Tanzania. Small-scale For. 14, 73–89. 

    • Kalonga, S.K., Kulindwa, K.A., 2017. Does forest certification enhance livelihood conditions? Empirical evidence from forest management in Kilwa District, Tanzania. For. Policy Econ. 74, 49–61. 

    • Meidinger, E., Elliott, C., Oesten, G., 2003. Social and political dimensions of forest certification. Remagen-Oberwinter. by Errol Meidinger, Chris Elliott, Gerhard Oesten, 2015-007. 

    • Miteva, D.A., Loucks, C.J., Pattanayak, S.K., 2015. Social and environmental impacts of forest management certification in Indonesia. PLoS One 10, 1–18. 

    • Quaedvlieg, J., García Roca, I.M., Ros-Tonen, M.A.F., 2014. Is Amazon nut certification a solution for increased smallholder empowerment in Peruvian Amazonia? J. Rural Stud. 33, 41–55. 

    • Tsanga, R., Lescuyer, G., Cerutti, P.O., 2014. What is the role for forest certification in improving relationships between logging companies and communities? Lessons from FSC in Cameroon. Int. For. Rev. 16, 14–22. 



     - Economic aspects 

    • Breukink, G., Levin, J., Mo, K., 2015. Profitability and sustainability in responsible forestry. Economic impacts of FSC certification on forest operators. WWF International report. 

    • Chen, J., Innes, J.L., Tikina, A. V., 2010. Private cost-benefits of voluntary forest product certification. Int. For. Rev. 12, 1–12. 

    • Cerutti, P.O., Tacconi, L., Nasi, R., Lescuyer, G., 2011. Legal vs. certified timber: preliminary impacts of forest certification in Cameroon. For. Policy Econ. 13, 184–190. 

    • Foster, B.C., Wang, D., Keeton, W.S., 2008. An exploratory, post-harvest comparison of ecological and economic characteristics of forest stewardship council certified and uncertified Northern hardwood stands. J. Sustain. For. 26, 171–191. 

    • Kalonga, S.K., Kulindwa, K.A., Mshale, B.I., 2015. Equity in distribution of proceeds from forest products from certified community-based forest management in Kilwa District, Tanzania. Small-scale For. 14, 73–89. 

    • Maraseni, T.N., Son, H.L., Cockfield, G., Duy, H.V., Nghia, T.D., 2017. The financial benefits of forest certification: case studies of acacia growers and a furniture company in Central Vietnam. Land use policy 69, 56–63. 

    • Watson, S., Mulet Solon, M., Schouten, W.-J., Hesp, S., Runci, A., Willems, M., 2016. Slow Road to Sustainability. WWF International Report. 


     - Systemic, spill-over aspects 

    • Cashore, B., Auld, G., Bernstein, S., McDermott, C.L., 2007. Can non-state governance ratchet up’ global environmental standards? Lessons from the forest sector. Rev. Eur. Community Int. Environ. Law 16, 158. 

    • Gulbrandsen, L.H., 2004. Overlapping public and private governance: can forest certification fill the gaps in the global forest regime? Glob. Environ. Polit. 4, 75–99. 

    • Gulbrandsen, L.H., 2005. Sustainable forestry in Sweden: the effect of competition among private certification schemes. J. Environ. Dev. 14, 338–355. 

    • Gulbrandsen, L.H., 2014. Dynamic governance interactions: evolutionary effects of state responses to non-state certification programs. Regul. Gov. 8, 74–92. 

    • Meidinger, E., 2003. Forest certification as a global civil society regulatory institution, in Meidinger, E., Elliott, C., Oesten, G., 2003. Social and political dimensions of forest certification 

    • Viana, V., 2003. Indirect impacts of certification on tropical forest management and public policies, in Meidinger, E., Elliott, C., Oesten, G., 2003. Social and political dimensions of forest certification. 

  3. Generalities about FSC: history, mission and functioning

    • Bernstein S. and Cashore B. 2004. Non-state global governance: is forest certification a legitimate alternative to a global forest convention? Hard Choices, Soft Law: Voluntary Standards In Global Trade, Environment, And Social Governance.  
      These international experts on global environmental governance analysis the legitimacy and viability of non-state environmental governance. They argue that the FSC, presented as the most prominent example of transnational certification scheme, meets international legitimacy requirements. 

    • Eden, S., 2009. The work of environmental governance networks: traceability, credibility and certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. Geoforum 40, 383–394. 

    • Synnott T. The Early Years of FSC.  
      Personal notes of a founding member and the first FSC Executive Director about the genesis of FSC. 

FSC Impact Demonstrating Impact Research Engagement
CC Lukas

Research engagement

FSC supports independent research that investigates the effectiveness of its system by providing researchers with access to relevant information (e.g. where to find FSC-related policies, identification of key stakeholders for interviews) and creates dialogue between individuals and groups.

We welcome any draft manuscripts related to FSC prior to publication or submission to scientific journals, for fact-checking and to provide other feedback (e.g. terminology).


FSC conducts monitoring and evaluation activities intended to help businesses understand our system and the impact it delivers. We produce yearly reports that demonstrate how we are contributing towards the social, environmental, and economic welfare of forests and communities. These reports also showcase ongoing research projects that assess the effectiveness of the FSC system. 

FSC Monitoring & Evaluation Report Context, figures, effects, and impacts - Public Report 2016
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