Social impacts of the Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Congo Basin

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We assess whether the implementation of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme in the Congo basin has had positive additional impacts--as compared to existing regulatory frameworks applied in noncertified Forest Management Units (FMU)--on (1) the working and living conditions of logging companies' employees and their families, (2) the effectiveness and legitimacy of the institutions and benefit-sharing mechanisms set up to regulate relationships between logging companies and neighbouring communities, and (3) the local populations' rights to and customary uses of forests. Results on (1) and (2) suggest that several significant differences exist between certified and noncertified FMUs. Results are instead mitigated on (3): Companies in certified FMUs tend to better enforce the law, but this may have unwanted negative impacts on customary uses. We discuss the reasons why several positive social outcomes materialised in certified vs. noncertified areas, and suggest possible improvements as well as required further research.
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