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Trends in Evaluations of Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) Certified Forests in Japan

Sugiura, Katsuaki, Sonohara, Waka
Small-scale forestry 2017 v.16 no.1 pp. 37-51
biodiversity, certification, ecosystems, forest management, forest ownership, foresters, forests, issues and policy, managers, monitoring, silvicultural practices, sustainable forestry, threatened species, Japan
The number of Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) certified forests in Japan has increased in recent years. As such it is important to understand forest management certification within the context of corrective action requests (CARs) to assess sustainable forest management. This study analyzes trends in CARs issued through evaluations of SGEC certified forests in Japan as a function of certification body, forest zone, size of forest holdings, and forest ownership type. This study examined 86 certified forests in Japan using data from summary evaluations published by SGEC certification bodies in 2014. Forests in the northern zone tend to have more CARs assigned, as did larger forests and communally owned forests. For managers interested in maintaining sustainable forests, the findings suggest that they should focus on improving the following indicators: “training and instruction, such as the safety for forestry workers” (indicator 5.3), “to evaluate forest practices against the original plan and to assess their impacts, with proper monitoring” (indicator 7.1), “explicit and management policy of the important elements in the conservation of biological diversity”(indicator 2.2) and “protection of threatened species” (indicator 2.3). The results from this study suggest that certification bodies have different priorities in their certification assessments, as indicated by the varying number and types of CARs assigned. However, the findings also indicate that the factors affecting the assessment results may not be only the certification body issuing the assessments but also the forest zone, forest ownership type, and size of forest holdings.