Not seeing the forest for the trees? The environmental effectiveness of forest certification in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Forest certification can be conceived as one of many rapidly growing non-state market driven (NSMD) modes of governance. The environmental effectiveness of forest certification is oftentimes evaluated by indicators such as stringency of standards, degree of participation by key stakeholders, certified area, etc. In political science, forest certification as an NSMD governance arrangement is usually evaluated in terms of the quality of the decision-making procedures (input legitimacy) rather than for its problem solving capacity, i.e. its environmental performance or effectiveness. We conceptualize environmental effectiveness as a function of a standard's environmental stringency and the area covered by the standard, the latter dependent on the degree of social acceptance. Accordingly, the environmental effectiveness of different certification schemes ought to be evaluated taking both the standard stringency and the area certified into account. The forest certification process in Sweden illustrates how forestry history and regional differences affect the development, acceptance and adoption of different certification schemes. Industrial and Northern forestry owners favour the NGO led Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards whereas Southern small-scale private forest owners preferred to develop an alternative scheme the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). We demonstrate that there is a bifurcated geographical coverage of the two certification schemes along a north-south divide coupled with a similarity in standard stringency and a high degree of acceptance in their different areas of dominance. Both forest certification schemes display a similar degree of environmental effectiveness - but in different parts of the country and for different types of ownership. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Peter Schlyter
  • Ingrid Stjernquist
  • Karin Bäckstrand
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • Effectiveness, Legitimacy, Forest certification, Forest governance, Swedish forest policy, Non-state market driven governance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-382
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch