Empowering smallholders for EUDR compliance through FSC certification

Smallholders
December 6, 2023
Category : General news

With 30 years of experience in pioneering sustainable forestry practices, FSC is a valuable tool to support communities, smallholders and family forests in meeting the requirements of the EUDR.

The new EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR), enacted in June 2023, places strict requirements on companies to ensure their supply chains are deforestation-free and sustainably managed. It requires companies to take measures to support sustainable land use in their supply chains, which strongly aligns with the FSC system. However, the EUDR introduces additional requirements for geolocation and traceability; two features FSC is actively working on providing through technology solutions.

Smallholders, as key players in forest management, face unique challenges in complying with these regulations. The barriers faced by communities, smallholders, and family forests in certification are global and apply to smallholders accessing the EU market. These difficulties include the number and complexity of requirements, lack of technical capacity, and costs. For 30 years, FSC has been working with smallholders to overcome these barriers and enable them to responsibly manage their forests for enhanced market access. These same tools and benefits for certification can be applied to comply with EUDR.

How FSC supports community and family forests to comply with EUDR

Through certification, smallholders and supporting organizations can benefit from existing tools and solutions that include due diligence support, traceability, documentation, and capacity building; each an integral component towards EUDR compliance.

Our comprehensive tools for community and family forests support EUDR compliance through:

  • Capacity building: FSC provides guidance and training to smallholders on sustainable forest management practices, helping them in turn understand and implement EUDR requirements effectively. We work with partners and communities to deliver on-site trainings and capacity building based on the needs of these stewards. This can include specific aspects of forest management, full trainings on the entire national standard, identification of both market and resource benefits and more.
  • Community benefits: FSC certification goes beyond just the environment. It emphasizes the welfare of local communities and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Smallholders can leverage this aspect of FSC certification to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their communities, aligning with the EUDR's focus on social responsibility.
  • Risk mitigation: The EUDR imposes strict due diligence obligations on businesses to avoid sourcing products associated with deforestation. FSC certification can help smallholders mitigate these risks by providing a structured framework with an accessible Community and Family Forests Toolbox, in addition to the upcoming EUDR Toolbox. Using these tools will help them ensure that their forestry practices are in line with sustainable and deforestation-free standards.
  • Collaboration: Smallholders can benefit from the collective power of FSC. By joining producer groups or cooperatives, smallholders can pool resources, share knowledge, and jointly navigate the complexities of certification and regulatory compliance. By using tools such as FSC’s Forest Management Groups Standard , this collaborative approach can be a cost-effective way for smallholders to meet the EUDR requirements.
  • Market access and credibility: FSC certification enhances market access for smallholders by providing credibility and assurance to consumers and businesses that the products sourced from these smallholder forests meet stringent sustainability criteria, which can then support meeting the standards set by the EU regulations.
  • Monitoring and compliance: Regular monitoring and assessments are done through credible third parties in the FSC system to ensure ongoing conformance with sustainability standards. This continuous evaluation helps smallholders maintain their certification and meet the evolving requirements of the EU regulations.

Moving forward together

While FSC certification offers significant support to smallholders under the EUDR, challenges remain. Smallholders often operate in remote areas with limited access to information and resources, making the certification process challenging. Moreover, certification can entail costs, both in terms of fees and implementing legal and sustainable practices. To address these challenges, it is essential for governments, NGOs, and FSC itself to provide tailored assistance, subsidies, and technical support to smallholders.

The EUDR legislation of 2023 represents a transformative step towards combatting deforestation and promoting sustainability. FSC certification can serve as an integral stepping-stone for smallholders, offering guidance, and a credible framework for responsible land management. FSC's comprehensive framework and support system aids smallholders in navigating the complexities of the EU deforestation-free products regulation while promoting sustainable and responsible forestry practices. By empowering smallholders to achieve FSC certification, we can work together to ensure the future of our forests, protect our environment, and create a more sustainable and responsible supply chain within and outside the European Union.

Learn more about our Community and Family Forests Toolbox

Explore our toolbox by playing our game here: https://journeytofsc.org/

Learn more about our solutions here: https://fsc.org/en/managers-of-small-community-forests