Forest Products Certification

The Rainforest Alliance is the world's leading Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Forest Management certifier, with more than 25 years of certification experience. We've worked in over 70 countries and all forest types, with small businesses, indigenous communities and Fortune 500 companies alike.

With the launch of the SmartWood program in 1989, the Rainforest Alliance developed the world's first global forestry certification program and the first to rely on market forces to conserve forests. We are one of the founders of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the most respected forestry standard-setter in the world. We are now the largest FSC-accredited certifier and have certified the greatest number of community and indigenous operations to FSC standards. Today, Rainforest Alliance certification and auditing services are managed and implemented within our RA-Cert Division. All related staff and personnel responsible for audit design, evaluation, and certification/verification/validation decisions are under the purview of the RA-Cert Division, hereafter referred to as Rainforest Alliance.

Beyond our unsurpassed experience and global expertise, the Rainforest Alliance also offers:

Transparency and Credibility: By collaborating with a reputable, independent nonprofit conservation organization, which operates with transparency, you can more effectively communicate the credibility of your sustainability efforts.

Use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal: In addition to the FSC trademarks, our clients also earn the exclusive opportunity to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal on certified products and in promotional materials.

Local Knowledge: Through our network of field offices we have an intimate understanding of local and regional issues.

A Practical Approach to Certification: We can introduce you and your suppliers to the requirements for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal -- and we'll work with you to ensure a rigorous and efficient evaluation process that can lead to certification.

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What is the relationship between the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Rainforest Alliance?

FSC is an international organization based in Bonn, Germany that oversees global Forest Management (FM) and Chain-of-Custody (CoC) auditing standards, managed through an independent accreditation of certification bodies. Accredited certification bodies (CBs) implement FSC certification evaluations, issue FSC certificates to those companies that conform with the standards, and grant approvals for the use of FSC trademarks on products and promotionally.

The Rainforest Alliance is an independent, nonprofit organization that is accredited for FSC auditing and certification as a CB. The Rainforest Alliance RA-Cert Division conducts FSC FM and CoC certification evaluations. The Rainforest Alliance also has several additional certification and verification programs in forestry, agriculture, and tourism that are un-related to the FSC.

Why does the Rainforest Alliance endorse the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

The Rainforest Alliance endorses the FSC certification scheme because:

  • The FSC is the most widely accepted and acclaimed global standard for responsible forestry. As an FSC-accredited certification body, we work in all forest types: tropical, temperate and boreal. Under the FSC standard we certify all forest types and sizes, including natural forests, plantations, large commercial operations, small family-owned forests and community forests.
  • FSC certification includes mandatory chain-of-custody so that an FSC certified product is tracked from its original source. The strength of the FSC Chain-of-Custody requirements provides the greatest assurance that wood from potentially illegal sources is excluded; it is one of the most important elements distinguishing FSC certification standards from other standards.
  • Products made FSC CoC operations include lumber, paper, furniture, flooring, musical instruments and non-timber forest products such as maple syrup and Brazil nuts.
  • All FSC Forest Management certification reports are publicly available online, offering essential transparency to all entities affected by the forestry operation.
  • The FSC requires in-person, on-the-ground annual audits of every certificate holder, ensuring ongoing conformance and continual improvements.
  • FSC standards address social issues, ensuring that certification addresses the needs of people who depend on forests for their economic, cultural, and recreational values.
  • FSC standards are developed with input from all stakeholders, ensuring that varying social, economic and environmental interests are represented.
  • The FSC enjoys widespread global support from an array of stakeholders, including businesses, environmental groups, labor organizations and others.

Through our RA-Cert division, we offer independent auditing, certification and promotion of FSC-certified forest products with the aim of improving forest management by providing economic incentives to businesses that practice responsible forestry. With offices and partner organizations around the world, the Rainforest Alliance is able to offer on-the-ground certification and auditing services globally.

How can my organization gain access to the Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal?

Organizations which have obtained FSC certification through the Rainforest Alliance are granted access to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal in conjunction with the FSC logo. If you are already certified by the Rainforest Alliance, you may access the RAC Seal guidelines and graphics by logging into our Client Portal.

Organizations which have received certification or verification through the Rainforest Alliance's forestry programs other than FSC, may be eligible to use the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark.

Please note that all uses of the Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal and the Rainforest Alliance Verified mark must be approved by the Rainforest Alliance prior to use.

How much does certification cost?

Costs can range significantly, depending on the complexity and scope of the audit. Costs also depend on where your business is located. For an accurate cost estimate, please fill out an application and send it to your nearest Rainforest Alliance regional office. You do not incur any obligation by filling out an application—it simply tells us about your company and the scope of the assessment so that we can provide you with a budget proposal. Please contact a Rainforest Alliance representative for more details.

Costs are based on auditor time for the on-site evaluation, report writing and auditor travel costs. In addition, Rainforest Alliance must perform technical reviews of the audit report and time is required for administrative tasks such as job management, data maintenance and trademark reviews.

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