Forest Certification

Forest certification is a voluntary process that evaluates forest management practices against a set of sustainable forestry standards. An independent third party typically performs this evaluation. Certification can assure consumers that they are buying forest-related products that were grown, harvested, and processed sustainably.

Types of Forest Certification

There are two broad categories of forest management certification for landowners: standard and group. Standard certification is for an individual landowner. Group certification collectively certifies a group of landowners under one certificate, which is issued to a group manager.

Certification Benefits

Certification can benefit a landowner in several ways

  • Increased access to markets
  • Acknowledgement of good forest management
  • Potential for better forest management

Certification Options

Each certification system has its own standards, but they all address timber and non-timber forest values; maintenance of forest productivity and biodiversity; protection of soil and water; and aesthetic, recreational, cultural, and wildlife benefits.

The three major certification systems in Virginia are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). All three certification systems require a written forest management plan.

Program Specifics

More information on each of the certification programs can be found on the program websites:

VDOF’s Own State Forests are Certified Sustainable!

All of Virginia’s state forests, covering more than 71,000 acres, are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS) standards. Certification ensures that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner. Certification also demonstrates for landowners how they can maintain their own viable, sustainable working forests.


Additional Resources

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Forest Certification
Forest CertificationP00206

Brochure provides an overview of forest certification, first steps, forest certification costs, types of certification, certification benefits, certification options, and program specific references. Printed copies available.

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