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Assessing the effectiveness of forest certification in the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada Tikina, Anna

Abstract

Proponents of forest certification view the system as a tool for sustainable forest management. Opponents declare forest certification "green-washing" or as an ineffective waste of resources. This study was prompted by concerns about the ability of forest certification to induce effective change in forest practices. The study applied a classification of regime effectiveness to evaluate the impacts of forest certification. Changes in behaviours (behavioural effectiveness) constitute the core of regime effectiveness. A secondary objective was to explore the settings that influence obtaining forest certification in the region. A mailed survey to certified and non-certified forest managing entities (public agencies, forest industry and non-industrial private forest owners) in the US Pacific Northwest inquired about the degree of behavioural changes in their forest practices related to certification. The results of this study reveal that the practices of forest managing entities in the US Pacific Northwest have undergone relatively small changes. The type and magnitude of changes differed among public, forest industry and non-industrial private forest owners. Non-certified industry holdings changed more than their certified counterparts. However, certified non-industrial private forest owners indicated more change than non-certified ones. Case studies were conducted in British Columbia to evaluate the transferability of the results. While some behavioural changes have been found, forest certification was more effective in other aspects--in goal attainment and through process and constitutive effectiveness. The study hypothesized the importance of both biogeographical and socio-economic settings in facilitating the embracement of the process, but the socio-economic phenomena were found to prevail. The research results are specific to the area (Washington and Oregon States and British Columbia, Canada), where the strong regulatory requirements might have eliminated the necessity to change behaviours with the introduction of forest certification.

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