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Mapping convergence of sustainable forest management systems: Comparing three protocols and two certification schemes for ascertaining the trends in global forest governance
Forest Policy and Economics  (IF3.673),  Pub Date : 2021-10-19, DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102614
Parag Kadam, Puneet Dwivedi, Caroline Karnatz

At the global level, two Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) systems, i.e., protocols and certification, have grown significantly in standardizing forest management practices. Protocols are driven by multi-stakeholder groups that outline a series of standardized criteria and indicators agreed upon by participating countries. On the other hand, forest certification involves market-driven multi-stakeholder standardization, assessment, and recognition of a forest management entity’s compliance with standards established by the respective certification program. In this study, we compare the trends in numbers and types of changes that have taken place over two consecutive periods (1995-2005 and 2005-2015) through case studies for three protocols (International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Forest Europe (FE), and Montreal Process (MP)) and two certification schemes (Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)). A qualitative review of the respective systems’ institutional histories is followed by a graphical representation of the observed changes. We then compare the relative quantitative changes in the categories of criteria and indicators in the standards of the selected systems. We find that FSC may have been instrumental in other SFM systems changing the ecological types of Criteria & Indicators (C&Is) in both periods. Changes in SFI’s standards correspond to its institutional changes from a purely industry-driven system to being an independent organization. Furthermore, we find that ITTO has been more reactive in changing their C&Is as compared to MP and FE, which may have played a vital role in the standardization discourse. Nevertheless, based on our results, we argue that considering socio-economic institutional elements towards trends and developments in all the five standards is important. The selected five SFM institutions can use our findings regarding the trends in the standardization of global forest management to achieve their respective goals for ensuring the sustainability of forest resources worldwide.