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Can voluntary standards regulate forestry? - Assessing the environmental impacts of forest certification in Sweden

Johansson, Johanna; Lidestav, Gun


This article addresses the issue of to what extent forest certification schemes contribute to the enhancement of environmental protection in Swedish forestry. Our assessment is built on the analysis of three different data sets, namely: 1) the Swedish National Forest Inventory (NFI), 2) the Swedish Database for Forest Owner Analysis, presenting data on small-scale forestry practices and certification, and 3) a follow-up mail survey addressed to private small-scale forest owners with certified forest properties. Our NFI analysis indicated some minor improvements in forest conditions, corresponding with the interim target for enhanced biological diversity (dead wood, broad-leaved trees and old forests). The improvements were less evident on large-scale forest properties (certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council scheme) than on small-scale private forest properties (mainly certified in accordance with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes). This contradicts a common assumption that a much higher degree of certification with stricter environmental standards will give more evident positive impacts on environmental conditions. However, results from the follow-up survey showed that more harvesting activity had taken place on certified small-scale forest properties than on non-certified properties. This could mean more negative effects on biodiversity. We conclude by stressing the importance of improving quantitative methods for determining a cause-and-effect relationship between certification and nature protection: previous research tends to report rather far-reaching conclusions based on limited data sets. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Forest certification; National Forest Inventory; Environmental objectives; Regulation; Forest practices

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Forest Policy and Economics
2011, Volym: 13, nummer: 3, sidor: 191-198

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