Based on a review of 40 studies of variable quality, we found that certified tropical forests can overall be better for the environment than forests managed conventionally.But there wasn’t enough evidence to say if certified tropical forests are better than, the same as, or worse than conventionally managed tropical forests when it comes to people.We also found that profits and other economic benefits can be hard to come by for certified logging companies working in tropical forests.This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”. Tropical timber has earned a bad reputation. When we think of timber from lush, tropical forests, it conjures up images of valuable old-growth trees pillaged by logging companies and illegal timber mafias, ignoring the plight of wildlife and local communities. But tropical timber does not have to be bad, some experts say. Tropical wood forms an integral part of many of our daily-use products, like furniture, toilet paper, flooring, construction, and packaging material. And this important resource can be harvested from forests responsibly and sustainably, experts say, ensuring that we meet our future wood needs while conserving forests. “When you speak about tropical forests with anybody, my mom or whoever, it’s always corruption, it’s always blood, it’s always stealing, it’s always dirty. Nobody wants tropical timber anymore,” Paolo Cerutti, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who has been working on sustainable forest management in sub-Saharan Africa, told Mongabay. “But that is bad because we can harvest the forest in a way that is clean and proper and sustainable.” It is this need for “clean” timber that gave birth to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) — a voluntary, worldwide certification program formed in 1993 by a group of environmentalists, indigenous groups, human rights organizations, and timber users and traders. The FSC, headquartered in Bonn, Germany, hopes to change the way forests are managed.