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Wednesday, 04 October 2017
New Approaches to smallholder certification moving forward

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is implementing the New Approaches project as a priority project globally. Launched as a FSC global project in 2016, New Approaches to Smallholder Certification (New Approaches) aims to improve access to, and uptake of, the FSC system by small forest owners and communities.


Several key activities have already taken place. These include identifying the priority coun-tries to support the local standard developers to include smallholder indicators in the nation-al or interim forest management standards; starting the revision of group certification stand-ard; and designing new concepts e.g. stepwise approaches or contractor certification. New Approaches is also bringing Policy and Standard Unit, Certification Bodies and Accredita-tion Services International (ASI) in all these activities making sure they provide their exper-tise and input from the beginning of the processes and trying to promote ownership of them.

“The motivation for the New Approaches project is to tackle the challenge at hand; What can FSC do to develop an enabling environment and relevant solutions for smallholders to access and benefit from FSC certifications?” said Vera Santos, Global project leader, New Approaches Project, FSC international.

In Africa the New Approaches project kicked off the project with two stakeholder engagement workshops the first one in September 2016 and the most recent on in May 2017.

The workshops generated new ideas and made recommendations towards building a certification system that would work for smallholders.

Major issues raised as hindrances to smallholder’s certification were; lack of understanding of how the system works, certification requirements are difficult to implement, certification cost is perceived as high and existing certificate holders lack awareness about group certification and its flexibility.

The recommendations and outcomes generated, were consolidated into six key actions Simplify certification for smallholders:
• Streamline procedures for verification,
• Build capacity and share information and empower users to apply the existing flexibility in the system,
• Explore a continuous improvement approach with in New Approaches,
• Explore the role and value of technology
• Collaborate with Governments and NGOs to initiate smallholder certification projects.

“The FSC is engaging with all key stakeholders from Eastern Africa sub region to bring additional thinking and new ideas that would improve smallholder certification in the Eastern Africa context” said Chris Burchmore, the FSC Africa Regional Director.

Since the first engagement workshop in September 2016, a number of activities were initiated and are underway. These include among others;
• Capacity development and awareness sessions to over 60 people on group certification.
• Mentorship underway to train others in group certification and other key topics with in the countries
• Awareness materials on FSC certification under development for some countries

The region plans to take New Approaches activities to the next level, adding to what is already underway. In the 2nd phase of the project that began in April 2017, FSC Africa wants to continue its technical support implementation of group certification schemes on the ground, and proposals are being received from already organised smallholder associations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to begin on ground projects.

Also, the region wants to test new tools and/or approaches taking up some of those earlier recommended from the engagements. Continuous Improvement Approach is one topping the list–as a new step-wise approach to implement smallholder’s certification in a step-wise manner in the Global South. a discussion paper on step-wise approaches has been drafted and will be presented at the 2017 FSC General Assembly in Vancouver during the New Approaches side event scheduled for 9th October 2017 at 4:30-6:00pm.


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