Does Forest Certification in Developing Countries Have Environmental Benefits? Insights from Mexican Corrective Action Requests

Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 14-06

29 Pages Posted: 6 May 2014

See all articles by Allen Blackman

Allen Blackman

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Alicia Raimondi

North Carolina State University

Fred Cubbage

North Carolina State University

Date Written: March 31, 2014

Abstract

Certification is intended to improve management of and environmental outcomes in developing country forests. Yet we know little about whether and how it actually generates such benefits. To address that question, we analyze 1,162 corrective action requests (CARs) issued after third-party inspections of a diverse set of 35 forests in Mexico certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). CARs detail the changes in procedures and on-the-ground conditions that forest managers must make to either obtain or retain certification. Our analysis indicates that a relatively small proportion of CARs required major changes in on-the-ground environmental conditions. The majority focused on social and legal issues, and the vast majority called for only minor procedural changes. In general, forest managers complied with CARs expeditiously, and the number of CARs they received declined over time. We hypothesize that these findings were at least partly driven by the tendency of FSC certification to attract already-sustainably managed forests and by the governance challenges of community forestry in developing countries. One implication is that policymakers using FSC certification to generate environmental benefits may want to target forests with less-than-stellar management — particularly in the case of reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) initiatives that emphasize improvement beyond business-as-usual — and to build the community and legal institutions needed for sustainable forestry.

Keywords: forest certification, ecolabel, corrective action request, Mexico

JEL Classification: Q23, Q56, Q57

Suggested Citation

Blackman, Allen and Raimondi, Alicia and Cubbage, Fred, Does Forest Certification in Developing Countries Have Environmental Benefits? Insights from Mexican Corrective Action Requests (March 31, 2014). Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 14-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2432179 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2432179

Allen Blackman (Contact Author)

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )

1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

Alicia Raimondi

North Carolina State University ( email )

Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27695
United States

Fred Cubbage

North Carolina State University ( email )

Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27695
United States

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