Group Forest Management Certification
This standard defines the general requirements for forest certification systems with group forest management certification that allows the certification of a number of forest owners/managers under one certificate.
Group Certification is a mechanism through which groups of small forest landholders can organize themselves, pool their resources, and work together to achieve certification. This makes certification accessible for small-forest owners.
The latest version of this standard was approved by the PEFC General Assembly on 14 November 2018.
The current status of the standard
A permanent working group has been created in order to provide guidance on the implementation and interpretation of the revised Sustainable Forest Management and Group Certification benchmarks. This includes the continued development of our newly adopted approach of certification for Trees outside Forests, such as urban trees or agro-forestry.
This working group will meet two times a year, mainly in Geneva, Switzerland, but occasionally at other locations.
What changed in the last revision?
Group certification works through a combination of internal and external auditing. As not every smallholder is audited, costs are substantially lower, helping make certification accessible. However, this means that internal auditing must work flawlessly.
The revised benchmark provides an innovative framework for internal monitoring and auditing in certified groups with a chapter on ‘performance evaluation’. This includes improved requirements for internal auditing, such as risk based sampling groups and minimum sample size, as well as strengthening the management system of the group itself.
By strengthening the internal auditing process, we can be even more assured that all forest owners within a group are managing their forests in line with the requirements and small-forest owners can continue to benefit from affordable certification.
2016-2018 revision timeline (completed)
- January – February 2016: Establishment of the Working Group
- May 2016: First WG meeting
- October 2016: Second WG meeting
- March 2017: Third WG meeting
- September 2017: Fourth WG meeting
- December 2017 - February 2018: Public consultation
- March 2018: Fifth WG meeting
- September 2018: Conference call - WG achieved consensus on the final draft
- October 2018: Approval by the PEFC Board
- 14 November 2018: PEFC General Assembly approved the revised standard
The revised PEFC Group Certification benchmark standard was approved 14 November 2018.