Small-Scale, Low Intensity Managed & Community Forests

FSC certification benefits extend to all forests.

Communities, families, and smallholders who manage small-scale, low-intensity or community forests can benefit from the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC’s) commitment to responsible forestry. FSC has developed a Small-Scale, Low Intensity Managed & Community Forests Standard in response to the unique needs of these groups with fewer requirements and complexities than those found in the National Forest Stewardship Standard.

walking through forest

Benefits of FSC certification for smallholders 

There are many benefits for small-scale, low intensity managed and community forests. Including: 

  • Sustainable Forest Management - The certification process encourages sustainable forest management practices including biodiversity protection, conserving water resources, and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  • Less Burden, More Benefits - By simplifying requirements, we are making it easier for small, low-intensity managed forests and community forests to achieve FSC certification. This will reduce costs and administrative complexities, allowing these groups to focus on sustainable practices and community development.
  • Credibility and Trust - FSC is one of the world’s most recognized and respected forest certification systems which can enhance credibility and build trust with customers, investors, and other stakeholders.
  • Environmental Conservation - By achieving FSC certification, smallholders contribute to global efforts to conserve forests and protect natural habitats which plays a key role in combating climate change, preserving biodiversity, and sustaining ecosystem services.
  • Social Benefits - By becoming certified, smallholders demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and ethical practices, including fair treatment for workers, gender equality, respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  • Market Access and Premiums - FSC certification promotes a growing market for sustainably sourced forest products by providing a competitive advantage and potentially commanding premium prices for FSC-certified wood products.    
2016_FSC Canada_ The Regional Municipality of York, Ontario, Canada_(c)FSC Canada 30.JPG

Who is eligible for small and low intensity forest certification?

  • Small-scale forests (1000 hectares or smaller), 
  • Low-intensity forests (harvest <20% of mean annual growth timber, annual (average) harvest of 5000 m3 (averaged over the 5-year certificate lifetime),
  • Community forests (managed by a local administration or government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation for the benefit of the entire community, in which profits are cycled back into the community)

5 Steps to FSC Certification


Contact a certification body

Contact one, or several, third party Certification Bodies who will provide an estimate regarding cost and timeline, The Certification Body will provide you with information about the requirements for FSC certification.


Application & agreement

When you decide which certification body you would like to work with, fill out an application form and sign an agreement with the certification body.


Complete an on-site audit

Complete an on-site certification audit where your selected certification body will assess your company’s qualifications for certification. 


Certification approval

The data collected during the audit will be captured in an audit report. The certification body will make a certification decision based on the information in the report.

If the certification decision is positive, you will receive an FSC certificate.

If the audit reveals that your operation is not yet in full compliance with FSC requirements, you will receive specific corrective actions. These corrective actions will need to be addressed, at which time a further audit can be conducted.


Annual audit

The certification body will also conduct annual surveillance audits to verify your continued compliance with FSC certification requirements. FSC certificates are valid for five years.

Standards & Requirements Documents

FSC-STD-CAN-01-2024-SIR FSC Standard for Small Scale Low-Intensity and Community Forests
PDF, Size: 1.44MB
Frequently Asked Questions
PDF, Size: 367.64KB
Summary of Changes
PDF, Size: 316.95KB
Annex A Companion Doc.pdf
PDF, Size: 864.48KB
FPIC Guidance for Organizations
PDF, Size: 916.15KB

Watch a webinar about the new Standard

Additional Requirements

FSC Pesticides Policy
PDF, Size: 824.85KB
FSC-ADV-20-007-23_EN Maximum threshold very limited portion conversion
PDF, Size: 135.95KB
FSC-ADV-20-007-22 Advice Note on requirements for certificate holders introduced by the Policy to Address Conversion and M37/2021
PDF, Size: 140.74KB

Existing Standards

Maritimes SLIMF Standard
PDF, Size: 732.58KB
BC Small Operators Standard
PDF, Size: 230.24KB
Great Lakes St. Lawrence Standard Draft 3
PDF, Size: 482.23KB