The two-year FSC pilot project aims to increase access to forest certification for woodland owners with under 100 ha in the United States.

The SAP will be available to landowners across Southern and Central Appalachia, a highland region of the eastern United States, encompassing parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. In its pilot phase, the SAP will be limited to a total enrolment of 3,000 hectares. The SAP aims to enrich the ecological health and economic productivity of the region, one of the world’s most vital sources of timber materials and a biodiversity hotspot. It will also facilitate the forest owners’ access to FSC certification through a simplified standard and process.

The SAP is an initiative under FSC’s New Approaches for Smallholders and Communities Certification (or ‘New Approaches’) project, in partnership with FSC United States, and corporate partners including Avery Dennison, Columbia Forest Products, Domtar, Evergreen Packaging, Kimberly-Clark, and Staples. The SAP was developed by the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance (AWA) —a project of the Rainforest Alliance — and leveraged extensive input from corporate partners, academic research institutions, landowner groups, and forestry professionals.

The SAP pilot will be formally operated by AWA partners Evergreen Packaging and Columbia Forest Products at their mills, and the University of Kentucky’s Center for Forest and Wood Certification. All these partners have a long history of FSC certification and stewardship across the region. AWA, FSC, and technical experts will also perform concurrent monitoring.

The project will undergo a pilot test at sites in the region, and will lead to the development of a smallholder access program standard. In July 2019, the participants signed cooperation agreements with FSC before desk audits were conducted. The desk audits aim to ensure the readiness of participants to start the pilot test implementation. The results of the pilot will inform the viability of this streamlined process to facilitate access to FSC certification by the smallholders in the region. Pending the success of the SAP, the principles behind the approach may be applied in other locations in the United States and around the globe.

For more details on the Smallholder Access Program, please contact Rosario Galán, FSC New Approaches Manager, at r.galan@fsc.org.

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