Group & SLIMF certification

FSC certificate holders can join together to form a group certification scheme and share their efforts for forest management planning, harvesting, monitoring and marketing their products. Group certification makes it easier to become FSC certified, as it enables group members to share costs and workload for applying and maintaining an FSC certificate.

Small or low-intensity managed forests (SLIMF) are eligible for streamlined requirements and auditing procedures that reduce the costs and efforts of the certification.

Forest manager
Group FM certification
SLIMF FM certification

In some cases, accessing FSC certification can be challenging from the administrative and economic point of view. These challenges become particularly relevant in the case of small scale forestry, who often don´t have the resources to conform with FSC requirements. To facilitate accessing and maintaining FSC certification, it is possible to create groups: several management units (from several forest owners) grouped together and managed by a Group Entity, which holds the FSC certificate for the whole group.

The benefits of group certification can be economic, by reducing costs related to certification, and achieving economies of scale in getting services and accessing markets. Groups also reduce the administrative tasks for each of the members, who get support in implementing responsible forest management. Within the group, the Group Entity has flexibility to allocate the responsibility for various requirements to the different actors in the group. The intention is to allow for enough flexibility so that each group can find its optimal structure and division of responsibilities to conform with the FSC requirements. For instance, evaluations like the environmental impact assessment or the High Conservation Value (HCV) assessment can be developed by the Group Entity for the whole group area, as long as each management unit in the group conforms with the results of such assessments, together with the rest of the applicable FSC requirements.

Group certification is commonly used by smallholders but is available to any type of management unit and ownership worldwide. In the Adria-Balkan Region there are two such FM groups, one in Croatia (Udruga šumovlasnika), and another in Slovenia (Slovenski državni gozdovi d.o.o.). Private forest owners may choose to join an existing FM group or form a new one. 

In addition to the FSC FM standard, members of the group certification also need to comply with FSC-STD-30-005 Forest Management Groups Standard which may be found below.

FSC-STD-30-005V2-0 FM Groups Standard.pdf
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FSC recognises that the cost of independent, third-party certification is relatively high for small enterprises. Moreover, the potential environmental and social impacts of small enterprises and those enterprises which are managed at low levels of harvesting are relatively low. In order to reduce the cost of certification for such small and low intensity managed forests (SLIMFs) FSC permits certification bodies to evaluate and report on these forests using streamlined certification procedures.

A forest management unit shall qualify as a "SLIMF" if it is either a "small" forest (100 ha or smaller) OR managed as a "low intensity" forest (the rate of harvesting is less than 20% of the mean annual increment within the total production forest area, AND EITHER the annual harvest from the total production forest area is less than than 5000 m3, OR the average annual harvest from the total production forest is less than 5000 m3/year during the period of validity of the certificate as verified by harvest reports and surveillance audits.

In addition to the FSC FM standard, members of the group certification also need to comply with FSC-STD-01-003 SLIMF eligibility criteria which may be found below.

FSC-STD-01-003 V1-0 HR Kriteriji prihvatljivosti za SLIMF
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FSC-STD-01-003 SLIMF Eligibility Criteria.pdf
PDF, Size: 100.90KB