The issue of forest certification has been a particularly compelling one for TFD since its inception
because forest certification has generated significant discussion and controversy over the last
decade. Currently, the debate is focused on how to assess which of the existing schemes is
‘acceptable’ or what are the desirable characteristics of certification schemes. Different groups
have begun to develop different methodologies for assessing schemes to see which meet their
needs. However, this has not resolved the controversy, but simply shifted the focus onto the
frameworks developed to assess schemes, rather than the schemes themselves.
As a result, certification remains complex and confusing for many forest owners and managers and
those involved in processing and trade in forest products. Many actors and organisations have
difficulties in choosing which scheme to use and they find themselves baffled by the conflicting
views on the applicability and market acceptance of alternative schemes. Others are weary of the
seemingly endless disagreements and would like to find a way to resolve them, but remain
uncertain how to make progress.
Recognizing the urgent need to move the discussion forward in a constructive way, TFD convened
its first multi-stakeholder dialogue on forest certification in October 2002 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The focus of the meeting was to bring together key leaders for the first time in a neutral, nonconfrontational
setting to freely discuss how to maximize the future potential of the tool of forest
certification. Participants welcomed TFD’s efforts and committed themselves to continuing to share
lessons learned, build trust and maintain constructive interaction.