Our Work in Sustainable Forestry
Forests are essential to the survival of life on Earth, providing oxygen, clean water, shelter, fuel and food. But rampant global consumption and illegal logging put a heavy strain on these crucial resources. At the Rainforest Alliance, we know that the best way to keep forests standing is to use them wisely. To that end, we work with everyone from large corporations to forest-based communities to ensure that logging is conducted responsibly, so that ecosystems are protected.
Certification, Verification and Validation
When a forestry operation meets certification standards, they earn the right to make certified claims and display the appropriate mark on products or promotional materials. That way, when conscientious consumers see the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) label coupled with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal on products and packaging, they know that they come from forests that have met rigorous standards for protecting forestlands, communities and wildlife. Learn more »
Certification alone will not automatically help companies compete in global markets. This is particularly true for the growing number of community-owned forestry operations in the tropics. Working with small enterprises to improve business skills, increase efficiencies and access new markets is a central focus for the Rainforest Alliance’s work with forest communities, whose livelihoods are intimately tied to forest resources, and who have the most at stake in conservation efforts. Learn more »
No matter where you are on your path to sustainability, the Rainforest Alliance can help. We offer sustainable sourcing, supply chain analysis, certification, verification and validation services. Learn more »
Criteria differ, depending on the type of business and type of certification. All certified forests have met the FSC Principles and Criteria [PDF], which aim to address social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations.
Certified forests protect wildlife habitat by curbing deforestation, protecting riverbanks from erosion, prohibiting hunting or trading of wildlife and ensuring that critical ecosystems and habitats, such as wetlands and riparian zones, are protected. They also employ soil conservation practices -- such as planting, building trails and harvesting along contours and maintaining ground cover -- to reduce erosion. Planting also plays an important role in forests acting as a sponge for carbon dioxide. Other conservation practices include composting and recycling waste which reduces the amount of waste generated in critical ecosystems.
Certification ensures that the rights of workers and indigenous people are recognized and respected. Workers in certified forests are treated equitably and given access to healthcare and housing, and schooling for their children. They are trained in safety procedures and provided with appropriate protective gear. By teaching foresters to operate sustainably and protect their natural resources, we spread awareness of the need for conservation.
When the certificate holder is a community forest operation, certification serves as a tool for constant evaluation and continuous improvement. It helps community forest operations identify how they can work better, how to include more stakeholders and communicate the benefits of forestry, and how to improve the health of the ecosystems they manage.
Certification also helps community operations gain a better position in the market and secure a stable portfolio of clients.
Certification is your assurance that forest products come from well-managed forests that have met a comprehensive set of social and environmental sustainability criteria. Verification of timber legality helps companies demonstrate that they are meeting local and international laws around timber harvesting. SmartLogging verification is your assurance that a logger has been trained to harvest trees responsibly. High Conservation Value Forest verification means that forests of biological and cultural significance at the local, national and global levels have been identified, and forest owners/managers have adopted practices to protect those forests. Verification of forest carbon demonstrates that a project is achieving its intended results, in terms in accordance with a particular standard (see list of standards). A validated forest carbon project is one that is deemed to be designed in accordance with a particular standard, but validation does not include claims about results.
For twenty-five years, the Rainforest Alliance has been a conservation organization and not a policy organization. So we don't often take positions on legislation. But we've made an exception for the Lacey Act, a law requiring that all wood products and plants imported into the United States come from legal sources. Ever since it was amended to include coverage of forest products in 2008, we've gone on record many times to express support for it. Learn why we feel so strongly about the Lacey Act »