The testing will determine whether including forestry contractors in a group of private forest owners who have already achieved FSC certification would decrease their forest management costs. The tests have started at the end of September and will last one year.

Close to 20 group managers applied to participate in the initiative after a call for expression of interest was sent out last July.

The participating groups were selected in four countries: Finland, Spain, Brazil and Australia. They come from diverse geographic areas and manage multiple forest types, such as semi-natural forests, natural forests and plantations. All participating entities hold a valid FSC group certificate and already work with forestry contractors. The selection of participants also considered various challenges faced by entities to increase the number of smallholders.

The pilot tests will also help FSC study the impacts of the newly proposed Type III group certification model. This model includes forestry contractors into the group of private forest owners. It is aligned with FSC-STD-30-005, FSC standard for group entities in forest management groups. Forest owners would remain FSC certified under the FSC group certification procedures while responsibilities and auditing procedures would now be shared with the contractors.

The pilot tests will be carried out in conjunction with the regular audit process. The New Approaches team will analyse the cost of the proposed changes to the group standard during and after the tests. This process should make FSC group certification a more compelling option. At the end of the pilot test period, the certificate holders and the certification body representatives are expected to provide FSC with pilot test reports. The results seek to provide more clarity on how forestry contractors have visibility within the FSC group management certification system, and ultimately, through their involvement, how forestry contractors can help to increase smallholder certification.

For more information on the pilot test project, please contact Lauri Ilola, topic lead for forestry contractors, at

For more details on the New Approaches project, please contact Vera Santos, Project Manager, at