FSC in China pilots initiatives, exploring potentials to welcome more smallholders to certification

FSC International has approved a pilot project for smallholders in China, which aims to test alternative approaches to fulfil conservation requirements that might be challenging to smallholders without compromising the integrity of the certification system.

Smallholders are “small” forest producers, or those with low-intensity managed forest operations, including forests owned or managed by communities.  Due to limited resources, smallholders are always considered as vulnerable groups. The small and scattered forest operations also make implementing sustainable forest management challenging.

The pilot will focus on testing the application of the newly approved China NFSS, and alternative approaches, such as implementing the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure in areas outside the forest management units, to fulfil the compliance of setting aside 10 percent of forest management(FM) area as Conservation Area Network.  Current Certificate Holders in Shandong and Fujian provinces will be invited to participate in the programme. The pilot will also conduct risk assessments to find the low-risk indicators for smallholders in order to guide risk-based audits for Certification Bodies.

In Feb 2019, FSC China distributed questionnaires to certified forest operations and stakeholders, to kick off impact assessment.

FSC has a long-term commitment to promoting responsible forest management and is determined to devise ways to welcome more smallholders into our system so they can enjoy the benefits. Currently, we are also developing a simplified forest management standard tailored to the smallholders in Asia Pacific, with field testing to be conducted in Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, and India later this year.

The first draft of the Regional Forest Stewardship Standards(RFSS) is available for preview and feedback is welcome. Interested parties, please contact Loy Jones, topic lead for the regional simplified standard, at l.jones@fsc.org.