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Equity and forest certification — A case study in Brazil


  • Pinto, Luís Fernando Guedes
  • McDermott, Constance


Forest Stewardship Council certification aims to use markets to promote socially and environmentally responsible forest management, with a core principle of social “equity”. Yet there is no comprehensive framework for defining and assessing “equity”, nor is there a methodology for determining differences in definitions among forest stakeholders. We've employed an analytical framework to a case study of the FSC in Brazil to assess if FSC equity goals are coherent and adherent to its policies, standards and impacts, what factors in FSC's implementation are influencing that coherency, and whether FSC's policies on equity match expectations of stakeholders affected by certification. We found that contextual market factors, local capacity, and procedural rules governing the certification process influence FSC's implementation in an asymmetric way, favoring the certification of large industrial firms over community-based operations. Meanwhile FSC policies and standards prioritize procedural and contextual equity within the operations of individual certified firms. This contrasts with the expectations of local stakeholders focused on distributive outcomes. In general, FSC's ability to reach both its own and local stakeholder goals for equity relies on the proactive agency of actors committed to overcoming the many barriers to local benefit that are both external and internal to certification itself.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinto, Luís Fernando Guedes & McDermott, Constance, 2013. "Equity and forest certification — A case study in Brazil," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 23-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:30:y:2013:i:c:p:23-29
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2013.03.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Commission on Environment and Development,, 1987. "Our Common Future," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192820808.
    2. Newsom, Deanna & Bahn, Volker & Cashore, Benjamin, 2006. "Does forest certification matter? An analysis of operation-level changes required during the SmartWood certification process in the United States," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 197-208, December.
    3. van Kooten, G. Cornelis & Nelson, Harry W. & Vertinsky, Ilan, 2005. "Certification of sustainable forest management practices: a global perspective on why countries certify," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 857-867, November.
    4. Nebel, Gustav & Quevedo, Lincoln & Bredahl Jacobsen, Jette & Helles, Finn, 2005. "Development and economic significance of forest certification: the case of FSC in Bolivia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 175-186, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pinto, Luís Fernando Guedes & Gardner, Toby & McDermott, Constance L. & Ayub, Karim Omar Lara, 2014. "Group certification supports an increase in the diversity of sustainable agriculture network–rainforest alliance certified coffee producers in Brazil," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 59-64.
    2. Tysiachniouk, Maria & McDermott, Constance L., 2016. "Certification with Russian characteristics: Implications for social and environmental equity," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 43-53.
    3. repec:eee:forpol:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:160-166 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Howard, Rebecca Joy & Tallontire, Anne & Stringer, Lindsay & Marchant, Rob, 2015. "Unraveling the Notion of “Fair Carbon”: Key Challenges for Standards Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 343-356.


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