Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 13 September 2023
Community and Family Forest Workshop

By: Tom Kain

In July 2023, FSC US held a Community and Family Forest Workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The purpose of the workshop was to increase participant knowledge concerning Community and Family Forests, the group forest management standard, the options for streamlining FSC, and the results of a recent FSC-sponsored consumer survey. Key speakers, Vera Santos, and Janja Eke from the FSC International Community and Family Forest Unit, talked about the tools available in the community and family forest toolbox. FSC US staff also shared about tools and resources being developed a national level.

The workshop outline for each of the twelve sessions was a twenty-minute presentation on a topic followed by forty minutes of group discussion. Presentations were made by FSC US and FSC International staff. When the participants felt we needed more time than the session allowed we added those topics to a “parking lot” that we discussed on the last day.

A few key takeaways mentioned by the workshop participants included the need to develop a non-technical family forest standard document with indicators written in a form family forest landowners can use and understand. They want to see a revision of the small low-intensity managed forest (SLIMF)/family forest definition by reexamining the acreage limitations and volume characteristics for the United States. We also discussed adapting the definition of a community forest in a US context to be more expansive.

In the group standard discussion, we examined the group managers' option to categorize tracts as either active or inactive. Inactive tracts are sampled at a lower frequency than active tracts for both internal and external audits. The result can ease the administrative cost and reduce audit costs. Another cost reduction item explored was the use of remote sensing and drone technology for group member properties that are difficult to audit physically. We also reviewed the potential for adding forestry contractors to groups to streamline group management. FSC US is also working on a project to mine historical audit report data to identify what have been the most and least common corrective action requests. It is hoped that this data will assist in the development of improved risk management tools to increase the efficiency of audits.

The findings of the 2022 IPSOS consumer survey commissioned by FSC International were reviewed. A few items of note that were examined were over half of the 1,200 US consumers surveyed have high trust in FSC to protect forests. Eight in ten consumers worldwide expect companies to ensure that their wood and paper products do not contribute to deforestation or damage wildlife habitat. 75% of consumers in the United States believe strongly in the importance of independent certification and 76% of shoppers who are aware of FSC will choose an FSC-certified product over its non-certified equivalent. Workshop members requested more specific North American marketing material to highlight the survey results.

Focusing on the FSC US mission “to provide pathways for people to support and recognize responsible forest management” this workshop afforded a great opportunity for FSC US, FSC International staff, certificate holders, and potential certificate holders to learn from each other and co-create solutions.