New solutions

We’re pioneering in our approach to stay ahead of the changing needs of the forestry and certification industries. As such, we continue to explore and implement new ways to take care of forests and provide a platform for dialogue to ensure our work includes the voices of all our stakeholders.

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Increasing FSC-certified smallholders

Our New Approaches project seeks to improve access to, and uptake of, the FSC system by small forest owners and communities. 

Currently, approximately 4 per cent of the FSC system is comprised of small and/or low intensity or community-managed forests and plantations throughout the world*.

Small and low intensity managed forests (SLIMF) make up roughly 3 per cent of the FSC system and community forest areas are conservatively estimably to amount to around 1 per cent.

At the end of 2018, the total smallholder certified area, including SLIMF and community certified forest areas, amounted to approximately 8.6 million hectares. Roughly 25 per cent of all FSC forest management and chain of custody certificates issued included SLIMF or community managed forest areas.

Our goal is to globally increase the current FSC-certified smallholders and community forests by 2020. Achieving this will require new solutions to responsible forest management that reflects FSC innovation efforts, as well as guaranteeing ownership of these solutions through active local stakeholder participation.


*Data from FSC certificate database, December 2018. Numbers represent best estimates based on currently available data.

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How New Approaches is helping smallholders engage with FSC

Kyrgyz smallholders get first Central Asian FSC certificate for non-timber products

2018 saw a group of 52 smallholders obtain the first FSC certification delivered for non-timber forest products in Central Asia. Their products are sold under the brand Silk Road Taste and include nuts, dried fruits, and honey.

The Great Silk Road played an essential role in the development of the Kyrgyz people. Occupying a favourable geographical position on trade routes and absorbing the cultural achievements of the East and West, the Kyrgyz Republic became the bridge connecting the West and the East.

Now, there is an opportunity for this tradition to continue through FSC-certified smallholder-collected products that find their way to European and Asian markets. The Silk Road Taste products, the first FSC-certified non-timber forest products from Kyrgyzstan, are an example of how a smallholder group certificate can offer significant opportunities for local producers.

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Healthy Jaguar populations recorded in FSC-certified concessions

Controlled wood strategy: Increase FSC certified area and impact in uncertified areas

In Lisbon in June, 64 people representing the entire FSC system took part in an innovative workshop to find common ground on the future of controlled wood. The workshop agreed a strategy that over time will lead to a reduction in the FSC system’s reliance on FSC Mix products and the controlled wood used to produce them.

After three days of dialogue, the FSC stakeholders agreed to nine objectives, as well as deciding on some short-term and long-term actions to help meet them.

                                                                                                 Agreed objectives


Increase the area certified to forest management standards in all forest types.


Strengthen supply chain integrity by using technology (e.g. verification of controlled wood origin).


Adapt the system to regional and national realities.


Use data for decision-making and understand impact over time.


Influence the management of non-certified forests by building strategic alliances and collaborating with like-minded organizations.


Create an enhanced value proposition and benefits of sustainable forest management, from forest to consumers.


Streamline the controlled wood normative framework and communicate with clarity.


Communicate openly and comprehensively to be transparent about controlled wood (e.g. on product labels).


Develop tools to help all interested parties to meet the standards and get certified (e.g., smallholders and forest communities).

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The Smallholder Fund awards 41 projects with EUR800,000

The FSC Smallholder Fund ended in 2018 after six years. During this time, 41 projects were granted in all regions with an overall investment of EUR800,000. 

Launched in 2013, the fund was created to improve smallholders’ capacity to achieve and maintain FSC certification, to strengthen their ability to benefit from the FSC system, and to increase the supply of FSC certified materials.




The overall results, as a direct impact of the granted activities, include:

  • 9 new certificates
  • 18 extensions of existing group schemes
  • over 200,000 hectares of newly certified forest area
  • further projects invested in to boost certification capacity and business case

Understanding the need of closing the financial gap for initial investment and ongoing support to smallholders and communities, the gained knowledge and experiences from this funding project are now being incorporated into the agenda of FSC’s New Approaches for Smallholders and Communities Certification project.