Under the banner of the New Approaches for Smallholders and Communities Certification (or New Approaches) project, FSC is coordinating the development of a forest stewardship standard specifically addressing smallholders. The regional standard will focus on the specific requirements for smallholders’ certification and will only be directly applicable for smallholders in India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This simplified standard should be applicable to a diverse range of smallholders, from smallholders viewing the FSC market approach as beneficial for their products to those who do not yet have any contact with external markets.

The standard development will also incorporate a proposed step-wise approach to certification. This approach includes implementing continuous improvement. Continuous improvement aims to prioritize the compliance to critical requirements and only after these are met, move on to focus on the other requirements. The step-wise approach also allows smallholders to start receiving benefits before achieving FSC certification. These benefits may include additional resources to finance forest management activities. This step-wise approach should also encourage continued participation and engagement for smallholders throughout the certification process.

The smallholders participating in the standard development will also receive a self-assessment form to complete. It will include a set of clear, simple, and understandable questions as well as explanations on the simplified standard. This tool will enable smallholders or groups of smallholders to identify exactly what is required from them to achieve FSC certification and to evaluate their current status within the FSC certification process, based on FSC regulatory requirements.

The new standard should maintain the integrity, reputation, and quality of FSC regulatory procedures, including: FSC-STD-60-002, FSC Structure and Content of National Forest Stewardship Standards, and FSC-STD-60-004 V2, International Generic Indicators.

The development of the standard will progress as follows:

  • First quarter of 2019: The proposed simplified standard is available for public consultation.
  • Second quarter of 2019: Field audits evaluate the proposed standard.
  • Third quarter of 2019: Results from the field audits are incorporated into the simplified standard and presented for a second public consultation.
  • December 2019: following revisions and evaluation by the consultative forum, the project team will deliver the proposed simplified standard to FSC International.

The regional technical advisory group guiding this procedure consists of country representatives from the three FSC chambers – environmental, social, and economic. A regional consultative forum will evaluate and propose changes to the simplified standard throughout 2019. The New Approaches project team is currently recruiting participants for the advisory group. They should include stakeholders, certification bodies and FSC network partners, among others.

For more information on the consultative forums or the technical advisory group in the Asia Pacific region, please contact Loy Jones, topic lead for the regional simplified standard, at l.jones@fsc.org.

For more details on the New Approaches project, please contact Vera Santos, New Approaches Project Manager, at v.santos@fsc.org.