hectares of certified forests in Canada


of the world’s certified forests are in Canada


hectares of certified forests in B.C.


of the world’s certified forests are in B.C.
Voluntary Process

What is forest certification?

Forest certification is a voluntary process conducted by an independent third party that assesses the sustainability and quality of a company’s forest management against a set of defined standards. Certification and related product labelling inform customers and the public about wood products that come from certified forests. Forest management certification examines whether an operation meets a specified set of standards, while chain-of-custody certification (sometimes called CoC certification) verifies that certified material is identified or kept separate from non-certified or non-controlled material throughout production, from the forest to the end-user. To label a product as certified, both forest management certification and chain-of-custody certification are required.

Global leader

80 per cent of B.C.'s forests are certified

Canada and the province of British Columbia were quick to adopt forest certification from its inception nearly two decades ago. Canada accounts for almost 44 per cent of all certified forests globally—the largest of any country worldwide. More than 44 million hectares (80 per cent) of B.C.’s Crown forestland have been certified by one of three bodies. That’s the same amount of certified forests as Sweden, Germany and Brazil combined. 

Skyward view of tall indigenous coniferous trees - Including Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), with sun shining through.

Meeting the demand for certified forest products

More and more, businesses and governments have expectations when it comes to the environmental reputation of the paper and wood products they purchase. The B.C. forest sector is meeting this demand through its broad participation in voluntary forest certification programs complemented by the province’s stringent laws and regulations. B.C. accounts for 12 per cent of all certified forests in the world. Third-party certification provides additional documented verification that a B.C. forestry company is operating legally, sustainably and meets internationally recognized standards for sustainable forest management.

Photo credit: Ainsworth Communications

Still image of video, used as icon, showing male looking at dual monitors with resource heatmap on left screen and Africa on right screen
Certification programs

What forest certification programs are used in British Columbia?

In Canada, there are three third-party certification systems for sustainable forest management: Canadian Standards Association (CSA)*,  Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) 

Certification programs are endorsed and overseen by one of two independent non-profit organizations: Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which oversees both endorsement and certification programs. CSA and SFI are recognized by PEFC. 

While there are some differences between each certification program, the three used in B.C.—CSA, FSC and SFI—all promote principles, criteria and objectives based on sustainable forest management, including reforestation, reasonable harvesting quotas and protection of wildlife habitat, soils, water and surrounding ecosystems. 

*CSA:Z809 will soon be withdrawn and is available on a time-limited interim basis to support certification continuity until PEFC Canada publishes their standard.

Photo credit: Nik West

close up of coniferous tree saplings being held in upturned palm of forestry management specialist

Comparing British Columbia to the World: Forest Regulation and Certification

B.C.’s world-leading sustainable forest management is backed by rigorous laws and independent third-party forest certification. This was confirmed in a study by Indufor, an international forestry consulting company that examined forest legislation and certification standards in 14 jurisdictions around the world. It shows that B.C.’s laws and legislation cover all of the 16 elements of sustainable forest management that are generally part of voluntary certification standards.

Photo credit: Michael Bednar

Chain of custody

B.C. provides added assurance through certified product labelling

Increasingly, customers want to know if the wood products they buy come from certified forests. And they can in B.C. through chain-of-custody certification. It is a way to track wood and raw materials that come from B.C.’s certified forests at each stage of a products’ lifecycle—from forest operations and factory fabrication to the end-user or retail floor. It also can be used to track things like the amount of recycled or certified content. The three certification programs used in the province—CSA, FSC and SFI—all offer chain-of-custody certification. The FSC and SFI programs have their own chain-of-custody standards and CSA has adopted the PEFC chain-of-custody standard and PEFC labelling. 

Photo credit: Nik West

Lumber manufacturing nik west scaled

See first-hand which forests in B.C. are certified

This interactive certification map lets you drill down to learn more about which forests are certified, by which company and program.  

Photo credit: Nik West

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Silviculture technician kneeling near reforested Douglas fir saplings while recording findings in notebook

Forest management

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