Advancing the Conversation on Forest Certification

August 2014

Members across the forest products supply chain met in Charlotte, NC on June 12 for GreenBlue’s first-ever Forest Certification Innovation Summit. The workshop brought together representatives from across the forest products industry including forest owners, loggers, paper manufacturers, printers, brokers, retailers, publishers, professors and more to discuss the value of forest certification and strategies to help drive this value.

Having members from across the entire supply chain in one room provided a unique opportunity to hear diverse perspectives and ideas as participants discussed the challenges of growing forest certification. For example: recognizing the need to better understand value drivers for small landowners in the United States; understanding which customers in the value chain are best positioned to drive adoption; and how to leverage constructive dialogue across the supply chain to grow forest certification.

A day of lively discussion produced interesting takeaways. One of the most valuable takeaways came from small landowners who expressed the need to include or reinforce value drivers outside of those typically associated with forest certification. For example, innovative ways to demonstrate and verify responsible forest management that are more aligned with how their land is being managed, as well as mitigating sourcing risk and concerns about illegal sourcing. At the other end of the supply chain, brand owners communicated the value of forest certification in helping to establish trust with consumers. In this regard, there could be strategies for brands to help make the connection between forest certification and consumer values. By introducing strategies that better align with the most important drivers of forest certification for each link in the value chain, we can begin to achieve the shared goal of responsible forest management.

Since the summit, staff and committee members have been working to utilize the day’s output  to develop strategies to deliver the value that supply chain members have indicated would best drive growth. GreenBlue will publish these results and ongoing efforts in an online resource outlining the project process and results up to this point, as well as the strategies to develop and deliver better value moving forward.

We will also continue to conduct outreach with stakeholders across the forest certification supply chain including a workshop at SPC Advance, Thursday, September 11. SPC Advance will give us our first opportunity to share the Summit results with a larger audience, and will help identify participants for the next step in the process – engaging the most important customers. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me via email at tom.pollock@greenblue.org.