Forest Certification: Social, Political,
 and Economic Dimensions

Block 519cJanuary 12-16, 2003
Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Science

Institute of Forestry Economics
University of Freiburg
Prof. Errol Meidinger or


Introduction. Forest certification is often considered from a technical perspective – what are the forest management requirements for certification, how do they differ from one program to another, who is qualified to serve as a certifier? In practice, however, many of the most contentious issues surrounding forest certification are social ones: what social values are promoted, how are the rights and duties of forest stakeholders altered, how is public governance affected? Indeed, many supposedly technical questions turn out to be social questions at base. Hence, the purpose of this course is to provide a cogent introduction to the social, political and socio-economic issues surrounding forest certification. Although it serves as an introduction to these issues, however, it is not an introduction to forest certification per se. Students taking it should either already be generally familiar with forest certification or become familiar with it in advance of the course.

Objectives. Students completing the course will gain:

Method. This class will operate in a seminar rather than a lecture format. This means that interaction of the participants will be key. Members will be expected to participate actively in class discussions and to contribute proactively to them. For the discussions to be productive, students must have read the assigned texts before the class session in which they are discussed. The class will be conducted in English, but the instructor will take care to ensure that all students can understand the discussion as it proceeds.

Requirements. Students will be expected to: 

Readings. Readings are drawn directly from a recently published book (Meidinger, Elliott and Oesten, Social and Political Dimensions of Forest Certification, 2003). They may be printed out directly from .pdf files linked to the schedule below or may be purchased from the Sekretariat of the Institute for Forestry Economics. Again, it is essential to complete the readings prior to the class. 

Evaluation. Evaluation will be based equally on each individual's presentation, written discussion of the reading, and participation in the class. Effective participation involves understanding and helping to clarify the readings, offering critical reflections on them, and listening and responding to the comments of others. 



Mon. 1/12

Tues. 1/13

Wed. 1/14

Thurs. 1/15

Fri. 1/16


Overview: Fundamentals of Forest Certification

Bass, Certification in the Forest Political Landscape

Dr. Maria Tysiachniouk: "Forest Certification and Global NGOs"

Markopoulos, Certification of Community Based Enterprises

Haufler, Certification as a New Form of Governance


FSC – 



Thornber, Equity Issues


Meidinger, Forest Certification as a Global Civil Society Regulatory Institution

Finger-Stich, Certifying Community Concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve

General  Discussion





Additional Resources. Many additional sources of information on forest certification exist both in print and on the world wide web. Below are some www sites that the instructors have found particularly useful sources of information on the subject. 

Discussion Groups

·        Schneider

·        Benneter
·        Gaddess
·        Lang
·        Schultze
·        Sohn
·        Zahn  

·        Gilbert
·        Schöneborn
·        Fischbach
·        Wilkes

·        Deutschlander-Woolff
·        Hahn
·        Prakash

·        Beck
·        Hamman-Kloss
·        Jenne
·        Mohammed
·        Vetter

·        Opferkuch
·        Ruckteschell
·        Schiller
·        Stürmer