Forest Certification

Forest certification represents a market-based approach to improving environmental practices in the management, harvesting, and distribution of forest products. 

Growing demand for timber and other wood products places increasing pressure on these remaining forests. Concern for the future of our forests—as wildlife habitat, as a source of important ecosystem services, and as an economic resource—has created momentum for the adoption of more sustainable forest practices. And the emergence of environmentally conscious consumers as a market force has created powerful economic incentives for industry to implement improved forest management practices.

Multiple forest certification initiatives incorporate NatureServe standards and data into their certification procedures as a means to identify forests of special ecological value and strengthen biodiversity protection.  

  • The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), established by the forest products industry in 1994 and now overseen by the independent Sustainable Forestry Board, currently covers over 150 million acres of forestland in North America.  
  • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was established in 1993 by a coalition of environmental groups, industry, and community groups.  Over 22 million acres of forestland in the United States and 40 million acres in Canada are under FSC certification, as are another 100 million acres elsewhere around the world.
  • The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has also certified over 100 million acres of Canadian forests.

Additional Resources

Ecosystem Mapping: NatureServe's work to develop an internationally consistent vegetation classification provides a fundamental tool for identifying forests of exceptional conservation value.

NatureServe Vista: NatureServe Vista delivers a decision support system (DSS) that integrates conservation information with land use patterns and policies, providing planners, resource managers, and communities with tools to help manage their natural resources.

Forest Stewardship Council: View FSC certification standards or search for FSC certified wood products.

National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry: A research and funding initiative focusing on the relationship between biodiversity and forest management.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative: View the SFI certification standards, publications, and other materials. In 2002, SFI adopted NatureServe conservation status assessments as the official standard for the protection of forests of exceptional conservation value.

NatureServe Explorer: Query our online searchable database for the imperiled and critically imperiled species and ecological communities covered by the SFI certification standard.

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