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Certification Procedure

Certification Procedure

1 stage. Decision

The forestry enterprise (further on referred to as the Client) decides to certify its forest management system against FSC requirements and chooses an accredited certification body (further on referred to as the Contractor). to conduct certification. The Client sends a certification application to the Contractor using the template authorized by the Contractor. The Contractor defines the audit costs as well as perspectives of the successful evaluation process, based on the application information about the Client.

Stage 2. Concluding a contract

Having discussed Client’s forest management system and certification process, the Contractor prepares a commercial offer to the Client regarding certification costs and a certification procedure. Once the offer is accepted and terms and conditions agreed, the Client and Contractor conclude a contract for certification. The contract is not limited to the period for certification.

Stage 3. Preliminary audit

If the leased forest areas are more than 50,000 ha and / or some of these areas are HCVF (high conservation value forests), it is required to conduct pre-assessment. The contractor has the right to initiate the preliminary evaluation as well.
A preliminary audit allows to acquaint of the Contractor with the structure, management and individual working conditions of the Client, and the Client is acquainted with the FSC certification requirements as well. The preliminary audit aims at identifying the «bottlenecks» of the Client’s forest management system, that helps the Contractor prepare for the main audit.

Additionally, during the preliminary audit the most important stakeholders are identified.

Based on audit findings, the Client is provided with a report with conclusions on the compliance of its forest management system with FSC requirements.

Stage 4. Management documents’ review

The Client may provide the Contractor with the most important documents prior to the main audit, therefore FC personnel in advance study Client’s scheduling and management procedure. Document review can reduce the time of on-site audit significantly .

Stage 5. Main audit

Once all major non-conformities raised on pre-assessment are eliminated, the Contractor and the Client schedule the main audit. In countries where FSC approved forest management standards exist, these standards are the basis for the assessment. In countries where such standards have not yet been developed, the Contractor uses its General Forest Management Standard, accredited by the FSC, which is pre-adapted to regional and / or local conditions.

Within assessment of Forest management system, the most important points are quality of forest management and its further development. Audit activities include estimation of management infrastructure, implementation of Forest Management system to enterprise, detailed review of operational documentation, interviewing of stakeholders (e.g. local residents, ecological organisations, hunting associations, etc.). Audit results are discussed with Client.

Based on the audit findings, Contractor provides the Client with a report, which either will recommend the to issue a certificate to the Client or set out corrective measures to eliminate nonconformities identified by the Contractor.

Stage 6. Peer Review

The forest management certification report is reviewed by an independent expert or experts who evaluate the work performed by the Contractor based on the data presented in the report. Based on the opinions of independent experts, the certification body approves the report, which will be sent to the Certification Committee for a final decision.

Stage 7. Prerequisite Verification

If during the main audit major nonconformities were raised, Client shall eliminate them before certificate granting. When nonconformities are eliminated, the client informs the Contractor on that fact. The Contractor shall verify the elimination via documents or conduct on-site monitoring.

Stage 8. Certificate granting and registration

Only after confirmation of eliminating major nonconformities, the Client will be issued the FSC forest management certificate. The certificate is registered by the Contractor in the FSC database. If necessary, the Client may be subject to conditions that must be met by a certain deadline.

FSC Forest management certificate is valid for 5 (five) years.

Stage 9. Surveillance audits

At least once a year the Contractor will carry surveillance audits of the Client to monitor the implementation of conditions raised by the report, forest management system and estimation of Client’s evalution in reaching sustainable forest management.

If during the surveillance audits the Contractor identifies 5 or more major nonconformities, the Client’s forest management certificate will be suspended. The certificate also may be suspended due to non-fulfillment by the Client of his financial obligations to the Contractor.

Additional clarifications

FSC certificate is the property of the certification body. The client is the holder (user) of the certificate.