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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Biodiversity conservation through forest certification: key factors shapingnational Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard-development processesin Canada, Sweden, and Russia

Elbakidze, Marine; Dawson, Lucas; McDermott, Constance L.; Teitelbaum, Sara; Tysiachniouk, Maria


Our work focuses on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), one of the most stringent, but also contested certificationschemes for sustainable forestry. Responding to criticisms concerning inconsistency at the national level, FSC-International recentlyincreased the prescriptiveness of its international standards, including the development of biodiversity-related International GenericIndicators (IGIs). We aim to understand recent efforts in Canada, Sweden, and Russia to revise national-level FSC standards in linewith biodiversity-related IGIs. What were the key factors influencing the standard-development process and its outcomes? Werestakeholders satisfied with the negotiations and what was finally achieved? The data were drawn from semi-structured interviews withkey participants, a comparative analysis of biodiversity-related indicators in newly approved FSC standards, and analysis of reportsprepared by national FSC offices. We applied the Institutional Development and Analysis framework within a complex systems approachto identify multiple interconnected factors that shaped standard-development processes and outcomes in each country. Our findingsindicate that despite persistent efforts of FSC-International to harmonize FSC standards across all countries, there are a number ofinterrelated key factors, which influence outcomes at the national level. Four common clusters of endogenous factors were key tostandard-development processes and outcomes in each of these countries: process-related factors, biodiversity-related actions, desiredlevel of control over biodiversity-related outcomes, and adequacy of available knowledge about biodiversity. Forest governance wasthe only common cluster of key exogenous factors in Sweden and Russia, many of which were identified as constraining the emergenceof a consensus-oriented negotiation process. Our findings indicate that efforts to enhance the consistent performance of forestcertification for biodiversity conservation require an improved understanding of negotiation outcomes as the emergent products ofinteractions between multiple exogenous and endogenous factors. This implies a need for a greater focus on process management aspectsduring future negotiations.


forest governance; Ostrom's framework; sustainable certification scheme; systems analysis

Published in

Ecology and Society
2022, volume: 27, number: 1, article number: 9

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Ivan Franko National University Lviv
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
McDermott, Constance L.
University of Oxford
Teitelbaum, Sara
Universite de Montreal
Tysiachniouk, Maria
University of Eastern Finland

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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