Boosting forestry at the bottom of the pyramid

September 04, 2012

Nearly 600 million people manage some one billion hectares (2.5 million hectares) of agroforests worldwide, yet these smallholders have been largely left out of a push to move some commodities up the value chain through certification programs. To date, it has been mostly corporate entities and commercial farmers who have been able to capitalize on premiums offered for certified "eco-friendly" products. The reason is simple: scale. Smallholders can't bear the costs associated with getting certified.

But a new handbook from The Forest Trust aims to change this by laying out steps to meet sustainability requirements set by international buyers for timber sourcing — specifically certification standards under Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).

“Many smallholders risk being cut out of wood supply chains by not distinguishing themselves from illegal loggers,” said TFT's Robin Barr, lead author of Sustainable Community Forest Management: A Practical Guide to FSC Group Certification for Smallholder Agroforests, in a statement.

“Millions of people around the world rely on smallholders for timber and other daily commodities such as fruit, nuts, coffee, tea and cocoa. Yet there is a very real danger smallholders will be excluded from markets because, despite often employing excellent practices, many have no official accreditation. As a result, some buyers needing to comply with legislation such as the EU Timber Regulation or the US Lacey Act to prove timber legality think engaging with these smallholders is too complex and are instead turning to big players who can more easily become certified or legally verified.”

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Boosting forestry at the bottom of the pyramid .