Transnational Environmental Governance

Transnational Environmental Governance

The Emergence and Effects of the Certification of Forests and Fisheries

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

In recent years a wide range of non-state certification programs have emerged to address environmental and social problems associated with the extraction of natural resources. This book provides a general analytical framework for assessing the emergence and effectiveness of voluntary certification programs. It focuses on certification in the forest and fisheries sectors, as initiatives in these sectors are among the most advanced cases of non-state standard setting and governance in the environmental realm.

Chapter 4: The Adoption and Impact of Forest Certification

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


This chapter reviews what we know about the adoption, direct effects and broader consequences of forest certification. The dramatic growth in land areas certified during the past 15 years attests to the market success of forest certification. This chapter demonstrates, however, that it is necessary to consider patterns of adoption when assessing the effectiveness of such voluntary tools as certification. There is a risk that only producers who face relatively low adoption costs opt in, whereas producers who face substantial adoption costs systematically opt out. This selection problem continues to raise questions about effectiveness. The chapter begins with a review of the formation of buyer networks to promote forest certification among retailers and manufacturers of wood products. The second section examines the market penetration of certification programs, detailing the impact of demand-side support for certification. The third section examines patterns of adoption and some of the unintended consequences of certification. The fourth section turns to NGO criticism of and support for forest certification. The fifth section reviews the extant research addressing on-the-ground impact of the auditing process, and discusses the potential of certification to reduce pressure on high conservation value forests and pressure for deforestation. The conclusion reflects on the effectiveness of forest certification as an instrument of environmental and social governance. THE FORMATION OF BUYER NETWORKS Beginning in 1991, Friends of the Earth, various rainforest action groups and other environmental activists began targeting do-it-yourself retailers in the UK. Meanwhile, WWF spearheaded the establishment of professional buyer networks in order...

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