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The drivers and evolution of competing forest certification schemes in the Chilean forestry industry/Les meneurs des schemes de certification forestiere en competition et leur evolution dans l'industrie forestiere du Chili/Motivaciones y evolucion de esquemas de certificacion forestal en la industria forestal Chilena.


Forest certification is now a widely-adopted private forest governance instrument (see Auld 2014, FSC 2017, PEFC 2017). Its development was catalysed by the failed intergovernmental efforts to address deforestation and promote sustainable forest management (SFM) through conventional means, manifested particularly in the lack of agreement on a legally binding forests instrument at the 1992 Earth Summit (Humphreys 2006, Gale and Haward 2011, Singer and Giessen 2017). The evident failure of this approach, along with growing boycotts in key consumer countries against wood product retailers' procurement policies, catalysed the development of private governance mechanisms based on forest certification and forest products labelling schemes (Auld 2014).

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), promoted by international NGOs and broad sectors of civil society, emerged in 1993 as the first certification system to encourage SFM in forestry businesses (Cashore et al. 2006). However, in reaction to the establishment of the FSC and seeking to protect their interests and national sovereignty, many national governments and forest grower and industry associations launched their own certification schemes (Gale and Haward 2011, Lister 2011). One consequence was to precipitate "certification wars", in which the FSC and alternative schemes, mostly grouped under the umbrella Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) system, competed to gain legitimacy and market share (see e.g. Tollefson et al. 2008, Rotherham 2010, Auld 2014, van der Ven and Cashore 2018).

In this context, the history of forest certification and of its "certification wars" in Chile is of more general interest because of the controversial origins of Chile's modern forestry sector, the contrasts between its plantation and native forestry sectors, and the eventual consolidation of certification. First, Chile's plantation forestry sector is amongst the most economically successful in the southern hemisphere (INFOR 2018). The expansion of plantation forests that enabled this success has been strongly criticised by some NGOs and stakeholder groups, as it was fostered by land use policies during the Pinochet regime in the 1970s, that appropriated Indigenous customary lands and caused significant environmental degradation (Miller Klubock 2004). The FSC and CERTFOR schemes evolved in the context of these contested issues.

Second, notwithstanding a history of competition since its relatively early introduction to Chile, forest certification in Chile has become consolidated. FSC certification was introduced in 1999, and the national PEFC-endorsed CERTFOR scheme in 2002. Some 60% (1.9 million ha) of Chile's plantation forests are now dual-certified under both schemes (FSC-Chile 2018, PEFC 2018). A further 0.4 million ha are certified under the FSC scheme only, including c. 0.3 million ha of plantation forests and c. 100,000 ha of native forests (FSC-Chile 2018).

Third, there is a stark contrast between Chile's plantation and native forestry sectors that is reflected in different motivations for the adoption of certification. Chile's plantation forests are owned and managed predominantly by large multinational corporations (63%), which are technologically advanced and capital-intensive businesses responsible for some 8% of the national export income (BANCO-CENTRAL 2018). In contrast, the native forestry sector comprises small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are much less technologically advanced and generate low financial returns.

Globally, there is a growing body of evidence about the positive impacts of certification for forestry businesses and their stakeholders. Examples of environmental benefits include the adoption of more environmentally friendly logging practices (Ulybina and Fennell 2013), the protection of natural ecosystems and of biodiversity, including through the conservation status of endangered, threatened and vulnerable species (Cubbage et al. 2010, Kalonga et al. 2015, Miteva et al. 2015). Examples of positive social impacts are improvements in working conditions (Ham 2006) and in tangible benefits to local communities (Kalonga et al. 2015), including through formal acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples' rights (Dare et al. 2011). The most consistent economic benefit of certification seems to be improved access to environmentally sensitive markets (e.g. Zainalabidin et al. 2011). However, attribution of impacts is difficult in the absence of studies based on counterfactuals (Blackman and Rivera 2010).

A number of studies of certification in Chile have focused on its SFM impacts (e.g. Cubbage et al. 2010, Heilmayr and Lambin 2016, and Tricallotis et al. 2018), or the relationship of certification standards to SFM (Masiero et al. 2015). These studies conclude that forest certification has impacted positively on the sustainability of Chile's plantation forests. Basso et al. (2018) analysed the external factors that influenced the rise of the FSC in Chile and elsewhere in the Americas. However, none of these studies have focused on the motivations of Chilean forestry businesses and their stakeholders in pursuing or promoting particular certification schemes. Understanding these drivers and how they evolve over time can assist our understanding of the certification 'landscape', and the place of individual schemes in it.

This research focuses exclusively on Chile. It investigates, primarily through interviews with key stakeholders, the main goals of forestry businesses and their stakeholders, in each of the plantation and native forest sectors, in pursuing or promoting a particular certification scheme; and if, why and how drivers of certification changed over time.


Forests cover c. 19% (c. 17.9 mill ha) of the total land area of Chile. They comprise c. 14.6 million ha of temperate native forests (see Table 1), dominated by forests constituted of unique and diverse Nothofagus species; and c. 3.1 million ha (21% of total Chilean forest area) of plantation forests, almost exclusively monocultures of introduced hardwood (mostly Eucalyptus globulus and nitens) and softwood (mostly Pinus radiata) species (INFOR 2018). Native forests are concentrated in southern Chile and most are managed for conservation under the "National System of Protected Areas" (SNASPE, in Spanish) (Table 1). In contrast, more than 99% of plantation forests are privately owned, mainly by two large forest multinationals that are now major global suppliers of wood and fibre products, CMPC Mininco and Forestal ARAUCO (INFOR 2018).

Plantation forests make an important contribution to the export-based Chilean economy, which is based on commodities (viz. copper, cellulose and fish; Banco-Central 2018). In 2017, forest exports totalled US$5.4 billion, making an important contribution to the national GDP; forestry is the third largest export sector (7.8% of total value) (INFOR 2018, Banco-Central 2018). Most forest exports are still commodities rather than value-added products, although the proportion of the latter is increasing (INFOR 2018).

Most native forestry businesses are SMEs, with an average forest area of only 12 hectares (Leyton 2009); only a few native forestry businesses operate on areas of between 16,000 to 40,000 hectares. The main native forest product is firewood for residential and industrial uses in southern Chile, totalling some 20 million [m.sup.3] per year (Reyes and Neira 2013). The production of sawnwood is much lower, at around 300,000 [m.sup.3] in 2016 (INFOR 2018). The disproportionate production of firewood is due to the long-standing degradation of native forest caused by high-grading practices (viz. logging only the best trees) that has reduced the quality of both forests and timber products (Bustamante and Diaz 2010). Only c. US$ 4.1 million of sawnwood was exported by a small number of SMEs, mostly from lenga (Nothofagus pumilio) forests (2017 data; INFOR 2018). Consequently, the profitability of most native forestry businesses is modest (Lara et al. 2016).

Overall, the forest industry--mainly the plantation industry--provides direct employment of 114,005 jobs (INFOR 2018) and up to another 186,000 indirect jobs (UNTEC 2014). Most of the plantation forestry workforce (60-93% in the major companies) is outsourced to numerous forestry contractor firms (see e.g. OIT 2012). Outsourcing of this workforce followed the privatisation of state forest industries during the mid-1970s, as part of the market-oriented reforms introduced during Pinochet's military regime (Miller Klubock 2004), and caused the loss of social benefits for former employees of state forest companies (Miller Klubock 2004). While social issues associated with this transition have largely been addressed over the past 20 years, there remain some unresolved matters, e.g. collective bargaining rights and workloads (OIT 2012). Plantation operations are now highly mechanised. Conversely, the native forestry workforce, particularly in SMEs, continue to rely mostly on traditional logging methods using chainsaws and oxen (Otero 2006).

The expansion of industrial plantations initiated, or in some cases exacerbated pre-existing, social conflicts with Indigenous Mapuche communities, due to the juxtaposition of a number of plantation forest estates with customary Indigenous lands in some southern regions. This has led to numerous conflicts and to violence, making forest operations untenable in some areas (Comisionado-Presidencial-Asuntos-Indigenas 2008).

Three state agencies are primarily responsible for forest governance. The National Forest Corporation (CONAF) is responsible for enforcing forestry laws and regulations, including the implementation of forest management plans. The Forest Institute (INFOR) primarily provides technical assistance to support decision-making processes in the forest sector. The Directorate of Labour (DT) regulates matters related to the working conditions and labour issues of forestry workers.

A number of laws are central to implementation of forest policy in Chile. The basic guidelines for forestry operations were enacted during the 1930s, but it was the enactment of the 1974 Decree Law (DL) No 701 that allowed Chilean plantation forestry to gain momentum. Subsidies provided under DL 701 encouraged the large-scale expansion of exotic pine and eucalypt monocultures, particularly on degraded sites in south-central Chile. This law and the subsidies expired in 2012. Only in 2008 was a specific law enacted for the development and recovery of native forests (Law No 20283). Similarly to DL No701, this law also provided subsidies to encourage the sustainable management of native forests; however, outcomes have been very modest (e.g. Lara et al. 2016). Ultimately, it was not until 2016 that an explicit forest policy was enacted to shape future forestry development in Chile and to foster SFM (2015-2035 Forest Policy, Ministry of Agriculture 2016).


This research drew on a number of approaches to answer the research questions. First, a political economy analysis (see e.g. Cashore et al. 2007, Romero et al. 2015) of the Chilean forestry sector was used to provide insights into certification decisions, using Cashore et al.'s (2007) framework to consider the country's place in the global economy, the structure of the domestic forest sector, and the history of forestry on the public policy agenda to help explain patterns of adoption of certification. Second, Tikina and Innes' (2008) framework was used to assess the effectiveness of forest certification in terms of process effectiveness and goal attainment. Process effectiveness describes the level of adoption of particular certification schemes, as measured by certified forest area, and their acceptance by various stakeholders, as represented by their attitudes towards particular certification schemes. Goal attainment describes the goals of key actors in forest governance in pursuing or promoting certification, and level the achievement of those goals. Third, Moore et al.'s (2012) methodology was used to classify the drivers of certification for forestry companies into four broad categories: (a) strategic position/corporate social responsibility; (b) signalling stewardship commitment towards external groups, to build social license to operate; (c) improved market access/prices; and (d) better internal/field management practices. These drivers were investigated by analysing the evolution of forest certification and the expectations and attitudes of key actors in forest governance towards particular certification schemes over its history in Chile.

Data collection and analysis

This research employed qualitative methods to collect and analyse both primary and secondary data sources, following Layder's (1998) adaptive approach, under which theory and data mould each other in a dynamic interaction. The primary data were obtained from in-depth interviews carried out by the primary author between March 2013 and March 2014, of 72 actors in the Chilean forestry sector representing a diversity of views and interests on forests and forestry. These interviews were based on a semi-structured questionnaire approved by a research ethics committee (1). Data from these interviews were triangulated with secondary data from FSC and CERTFOR audit reports (see FSC 2015, CertforChile 2015), government documents, public statistics and reports, as well as media information. The interview transcripts were coded and analysed using the QSR NVIVO computer software to form thematic networks (Attride-Stirling 2001), through identifying the main themes emerging from the data at different levels of aggregation.

Study area and sampling method

Interview data were drawn from informants employed by 19 forestry businesses and others representing a range of stakeholders (see Table 2), located in six southern and south-central Chilean regions ("region" is the major administrative division) where forests and forestry are most relevant: El Maule, Biobio, La Araucania, Los Rios, Los Lagos and Magallanes. The 19 businesses were sampled purposively, to represent both SMEs and large companies in each of native and plantation forestry sectors, and including both certified and non-certified businesses.


Evolution of forest certification

The evolution of certification in Chile largely followed the pattern that occurred globally, but ultimately involved a significant shift towards the FSC. This shift can be explained by understanding how the motivations and attitudes of the key actors towards certification evolved and changed over the two decades since certification was initiated in Chile. This history can be summarised into five phases, as follows: (a) first approaches to forest certification; (b) growing domestic and international opposition to Chilean forestry practices; (c) early FSC adoption; (d) development of the CERTFOR scheme as an industry reaction; and (e) FSC acceptance and adoption.

First approaches to forest certification

In 1995, the Montreal Process participants met in Chile to agree on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), leading to the "Santiago Declaration" by which twelve signatory countries (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Uruguay and the US) committed themselves to embed such criteria and indicators into their own forest policies (FAO 1995, CAPP 1999). This Process was the basis for promoting SFM in Chile (Rodriguez 2007). A related national process, "the working group for SFM", was launched by CONAF in 1997 to define SFM indicators and explore their implementation (CAPP 1999). This process allowed CONAF to bring together a number of actors with different views on forests and forestry, to define SFM and discuss its environmental and social indicators (interviewee N-RM-05). Those actors included some peasant organisations, some universities, Chile's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CORMA (the major timber industry association), CONAMA (the National Commission of the Environment), and the AIFBN (a domestic ENGO). This work established a basis for assessment of environmental and social indicators of SFM, but it did not develop subsequently (interviewee N-RM-05). However, this situation changed in 1997 when the first Executive Director of FSC International, Timothy Synnott, visited Chile; his visit helped address a number of outstanding questions about certification:
"We didn't know how to make companies to implement
all that stuff [SFM principles, criteria and indicators]. But
with the FSC scheme we had a clear instrument that could
help us to implement those criteria and indicators so as to
bring about a real change within companies." (interviewee

Almost concurrently, INFOR initiated a research project funded by the European Union, to study the feasibility of implementing the FSC in Chilean forestry companies (interviewee R-VIII-01). However, these first approaches were not sufficient to encourage companies to adopt FSC certification.

Growing domestic and international opposition to Chilean forestry practices

The second phase in the rise of certification in Chile followed a growing domestic opposition against the plantation industry and forestry and the launch of an international campaign against the Chilean forest industry.

Domestically, the large-scale plantation industry was targeted by a range of stakeholders after Chile's return to democracy in 1990. The military dictatorship that governed Chile from 1973 to 1990 implemented a series of economic reforms, including tax incentives for private sector investment, major public expenditure constraints, strong incentives for the export sector, and the privatisation of previously state-owned companies, including in the forestry sector. Those reforms encouraged plantation expansion on Chile's southern territories, but they exacerbated a long-standing land tenure conflict with a number of Mapuche communities. This expansion was therefore perceived as illegitimate in the view of some NGOs, peasant and Indigenous communities (interviewees N-RM-05, N-RM-06 and R-MB-01). Further, since the 1990s, the plantation industry had frequently been blamed for environmental problems, including conversion of native forests into plantations and degradation of soils and water, as many interviewees asserted (interviewees A-VIII-01, I-VIII-01, I-IX-01 and N-RM-05). There remains much controversy about the real scale and causes of these environmental impacts (see e.g. OIT 2012, Garcia-Chevesich et al. 2017).

Internationally, in 1999 the American ENGO Forest Ethics launched a campaign against the conversion of native temperate forests in Chile. For example, an advertisement in the New York Times on 13 September 2002 showed an extensive clear-cut, with the aim of persuading US purchasers to stop buying wood products from Chilean forests unless they certified their operations under the FSC (FAO 2007). However, the largest Chilean forestry businesses--CMPC Mininco and Forestal ARAUCO--were reluctant to adopt the FSC scheme and agreed instead with Forests Ethics and the major retailer Home Depot, as well as with a number of other NGOs, to not log or "touch in any way" the native forests over which they had rights, an agreement known as the Joint Solutions

Project (interviewees N-RM-05 and N-RM-06). This agreement allowed Chile's large-scale plantation industry to call a halt to international boycotts, and avoid reputational damage as well as potential sanctions on its exports to developed country markets.

Early FSC adopters

During the early 2000s two plantation forestry businesses, Forestal Millalemu and Forestal Monteaguila, owned at that time by multinational corporations, pioneered FSC adoption following a directive from their European headquarters; they certified a combined area of some 180,000 hectares (interviewees N-RM-05 and R-MB-01). Those two companies had previously pioneered the adoption of the Environmental Management System (EMS) ISO 14001 standard in 1997. This set a precedent for the Chilean industry:
"They [some industry competitors] didn't understand how
that company [Forestal Monteaguila] was competitive
having those high [certification] environmental costs. And
all of that triggered the entry of other actors because they
said 'if they can, why not us?' Somehow this situation [the
companies that certified first] put more social pressure on
them [the large forest industry]." (interviewee R-VIII-01).

The CERTFOR scheme as an industry reaction

Notwithstanding that the FSC certification was gaining momentum in Chile, the largest forestry companies, which had adopted the EMS ISO 14001 only in 1999 (CORMA 2015), rejected the FSC scheme and instead promoted the establishment of the Chilean System for Forest Certification (CERTFOR):
"CERTFOR was mainly a response from the most powerful industry groups
such as CMPC-Mininco and ARAUCO
because they deeply resisted the FSC (...) and with state
funding they created the forestry scheme CERTFOR. (...)
And they tried to validate this alternative through the
media saying that they didn't agree with that monopoly
[the FSC] and that Chile should have its own forestry
scheme because the FSC was a type of colonization (...)"
(interviewee N-RM-06).

Besides appealing to national sovereignty, the large plantation industry also pointed to what they saw as the FSC's excessively exacting requirements and to the immaturity of the FSC national standard during the early 2000s, as illustrated by this industry respondent: "we hadn't the sufficient guarantees of governance with the FSC; the interested parties took too long in reaching consensus" (interviewee PFB-MB-p01). The FSC national standard was only finalised in 2005, and until then, forestry businesses had to certify their operations under an interim standard. In contrast, the process to create CERTFOR was much faster and relatively smooth, as some industry respondents asserted (interviewees PFB-MB-p01 and PFB-VIII-m01). CERTFOR was one of the first international schemes recognised by PEFC outside Europe, in 2004 (CertforChile 2015).

However, the CERTFOR standard rule-making process was widely criticised by many respondents outside the forest industry, since it lacked the participation of actors other than the industry itself, as stated by a NGO representative:
"They [the CERTFOR rule-making team] validated
CERTFOR through a consultation process but it wasn't a
consultation at all... Actually, there was just a technical
team validating such a standard. It wasn't any democratic
participation of social and environmental entities,
Indigenous representatives, nothing at all." (interviewee

Therefore, the first CERTFOR rule-making process was perceived as illegitimate by NGO members, some small-scale plantation forestry businesses, Indigenous community members and representatives of forestry workers unions (interviewees N-RM-02, N-RM-05, N-RM-06, PFB-VIII-n01, I-IX-02 and IW-MB-01). Notwithstanding this criticism, the CERTFOR scheme has been largely successful in terms of the area certified: more than 1.9 million ha of plantation forests (79% of the net area) are now CERTFOR-certified, mainly by large forestry businesses (CertforChile 2015).

FSC acceptance and adoption

Two independent events catalysed the ultimate acceptance and adoption of FSC certification by the large-scale plantation forest industry. First, in 2007, the appointment of Hernan Cortes, a renowned senior industry officer and member of the FSC economic chamber, to the presidency of FSC Chile had a positive impact in the credibility of the scheme from the industry' perspective (interviewee N-RM-05). This allowed the industry a close involvement into the FSC governance. Second, large industry actors received an ultimatum from some of their most important European markets--suppliers of printing companies--that they only would accept FSC-certified products. Hence, in 2009, the largest Chilean forestry businesses, CMPC-Mininco and Forestal ARAUCO, announced that they now endorsed the FSC, initiating a process that lasted for the next five years. Consequently, the FSC-certified forest area in Chile expanded dramatically, from only 527,599 hectares in 2009 to 2,355,427 hectares in 2014; this included not only plantation forests, but also extensive areas of native forests owned by these two largest plantation companies (FSC-Chile 2018).

Main certification drivers for Chilean forestry businesses

Following Moore et al.'s (2012) methodological framework, four main drivers of certification were identified in this study: social licence to operate, corporate social responsibility (CSR) motivations, market access, and learning from better internal and field management practices. These drivers, and the terms in which they were commonly described by interviewees, are summarised in Table 3. Records of the in-depth interviews were analysed to investigate attitudes (process effectiveness) and expectations towards particular certification schemes, and if and how those expectations were met (goal attainment).

Social licence to operate

As noted in Table 3, social licence to operate was one of the most important drivers of certification for large companies, as this group was actively targeted by NGOs and advocacy groups for Indigenous rights. Although not completely successful in addressing all the land tenure disputes with Indigenous communities, the FSC process proved very useful in resolving a significant number of them. For example, a large enterprise that had experienced more than 200 conflicts with Mapuche communities reduced the number of these conflicts to 20, and stopped advocating for use of the Antiterrorist Law (Law No 18314) against community members that had illegally occupied its forest estates (interviewees N-RM-02 and N-RM-06; FSC audit reports). In many cases, the process of forest certification allowed companies and Indigenous communities to reach mutually beneficial agreements, but in other cases the solutions were beyond the scope of certification.

CSR drivers

CSR motivations were usually mixed with social licence drivers. Most respondents of small and medium-sized plantation forestry businesses saw reputational benefits, protection against potential criticism from NGOs, and better public credibility as the main certification drivers:
"We followed the example of larger companies [large-scale
plantation forestry businesses]. Also we tried to
enhance the reputation of the company. While it's true that
there are petty economic benefits, there is also the issue of
how your [sustainability] performance as a forestry company is perceived
by the Chilean society." (interviewee

Many industry respondents (interviewees PFB-VIII-l01, PFB-VIII-m01, and PFB-VIII-n01) commented that many of these plantation SMEs sought "to get on the bandwagon" of certification to "follow a global trend" initiated by large companies, and so to gain competitive advantage. In general, SMEs had a mutually beneficial relationship with their local communities, and certification represented rather a proactive measure against criticism as well as means of gaining competitive advantage.

Market access

For large plantation forestry businesses, maintaining traditional market access was the foremost motivation in seeking CERTFOR certification in the early 2000s and then, in 2009, FSC certification. In contrast, for plantation SMEs and native forestry businesses, the FSC scheme was a means to gain market access. As stated by the CEO of a small plantation SME:
"Economically, if the company wasn't FSC certified we
would have trouble accessing international markets. Our
clients in Japan require us to be FSC certified and that is
the only forestry scheme (that can certify us), there are no
other options" (interviewee PFB-VIII-n01).

However, there was mixed success in terms of market access. While the vast majority of industry respondents (e.g. interviewees PFB-X-o01, PFB-VIII-n01, PFB-VII-J01, PFB-MB-p01, PFB-MB-p02, and PFB-MB-q01) from plantation forestry businesses asserted that in most cases they maintained or gained market access, native forestry businesses (interviewees NFB-XII-c01, B-XIV-01, and NFB-IX-a01) reported modest success in accessing environmentally-sensitive markets in the northern hemisphere.


As Table 3 shows, learning from better internal and field management practices was a particularly relevant certification driver for plantation forestry businesses. Indeed, most industry officers and forest owners (interviewees PFB-VII-j01, PFB-VIII-l01, PFB-VIII-l02, PFB-VIII-m01, PFB-VIII-n01, PFB-X-o01, PFB-MB-p01, PFB-MB-p02 and PFB-MB-q01) commonly stated that certification helped their companies to improve their SFM performance and the planning of forest operations. For instance, the CEO of one SME observed "if we had to start again we would implement the FSC again so as to guide us from the beginning" (interview with PFB-VIII-l01). Notably, most respondents asserted that their original expectations concerning learning from better SFM practices through forest certification were achieved.

Attitudes and perceptions towards particular certification schemes

Overall, most industry respondents perceived the FSC positively in terms of its contribution to SFM practices, social aspects, and public corporate reputation. In particular, the FSC enjoyed greater credibility than CERTFOR since it had the support of renowned NGOs and its governance structure based on three chambers was broadly representative in a way that CERTFOR's was not. As one implementation officer explained "I think that the participation of the social chamber is one of the FSC strengths and validates it. Then it's hard to see the FSC failing over time (interviewee PFB-X-o01)". Diverse stakeholders, including government officers, NGOs, researchers, forestry workers' unions, and Indigenous representatives reported similar views.

In contrast, the CERTFOR scheme was frequently seen less favourably than the FSC, as a number of industry respondents and stakeholders asserted (e.g. interviewees PFB-X-o01, PFB-VII-k01, R-MB-01, I-IX-02 and N-RM-05). Most of those respondents identified its less prescriptive requirements, the modest performance of its certification audits, and notably, its lack of credible governance as important reasons: "... As they [CertforChile] didn't include any NGOs in their governance, this brought about a lot of suspicion (interviewee R-VIII-01)". However, many of these respondents also recognised that the CERTFOR scheme represented the first step towards a more sustainable forest industry.


This case study from Chile provides a detailed account of the motivations of both the forest industry and key stakeholders in adopting and promoting certification, respectively, and how these evolved over time. They are discussed below.

Certification drivers and evolution of forest certification

The emergence of forest certification in Chile reflects a number of drivers that determined adoption patterns depending on forest type and scale, and a number of contextual factors.

As we have seen, although a small group of environmentally aware large plantation companies adopted FSC certification during the early 2000s, the largest plantation forestry businesses (viz. CMPC Mininco and Forestal ARAUCO) rejected the FSC and created their own scheme. This industry reaction was not unique: a number of similar examples have been described in Canada, the US, Australia and Brazil (see e.g. Lister 2011, Gale and Haward 2011, Pinto et al. 2012). As Gulbrandsen (2010) has pointed out, the existence of well-organised landowner associations is an important contextual factor to explain why forest growers--in this case Chile's large-scale industrial plantation owners, organised under their industry association CORMA--resisted pressure from their supply chains for FSC certification.

Rather, and consistent with a number of European, South American and North American cases (Auld 2014, Tuppura et al. 2015), the Chilean large-scale plantation industry sought alternative certification primarily to maintain its traditional access to environmentally sensitive international markets and as a means to obtain a social licence to operate. Notwithstanding the evident pressure in the early 2000s from both overseas timber retailers, as well as from domestic and international NGOs, for Chilean companies to adopt FSC, the largest-scale industry could avoid doing so by signing the Joint Solutions Project and by creating CERTFOR. As in the USA (Cashore et al. 2004), the slowness of the FSC national standard-setting process also played a role in constraining early adoption of this scheme by the largest industry players,

The plantation SMEs and native forestry businesses that adopted certification in the following years mostly adopted the FSC, to access certain FSC-oriented market niches of high value-added timber products in Europe and North America. Unlike large plantation companies, their drivers also included learning and CSR motivations; Crow and Danks (2010) found similarly in small community-based forestry businesses in the USA. Social licence was unlikely to be a driver for SMEs, as boycotts were primarily directed against large businesses, also as usually occurs in other sectors (see e.g. Gunningham and Sinclair 2002). In addition, learning motivations found in this study are consistent with the "SFM reasons" given by Japanese forestry enterprises (Sugiura and Oki 2018). Their behaviour is consistent with Cashore et al.'s (2007) analytical framework: Chilean SMEs were more inclined to adopt the FSC since--unlike the large companies--they had highly fragmented associations, less orientation to international markets, and less influence on forest policy-making processes--.

However, unlike many industry associations in other countries that rejected the FSC and embraced only their own schemes (see e.g. Gulbrandsen 2010 and Cashore and Auld 2012), the largest-scale Chilean plantation industry finally endorsed the FSC in 2009. This can be explained by the increasing pressure from northern hemisphere clients, the need for social licence, and the lowest position--as primary producers--of the Chilean industry in the global timber supply chain. As noted by Cashore et al. (2004), pragmatic legitimacy reasons (viz. market pressures) were primarily behind large companies' decision to adopt the FSC. Social licence has also been identified as an FSC driver in some developing countries (see e.g. the Congo case-study in Cerutti et al. 2017).

Although the FSC largely helped companies to achieve social licence with Indigenous communities by reducing land tenure disputes, it was ineffective in solving the most radicalised conflicts. The empirical evidence from this research supports the argument that non-state governance needs to be underpinned by reasonably effective state governance, particularly through setting clear and stable land tenure rights (see e.g. Bell and Hindmoor 2009). This has not yet occurred in the Chilean case yet, either for Indigenous communities or forest owners. Ecosystem services and forested landscapes can be considered as common resources for both communities and forestry businesses (Ostrom 1999); achieving effective governance over them is impracticable in the absence of clearly defined rights.

Why, in these circumstances, did these companies also maintain CERTFOR certification? Part of the reason is probably the time and resources already invested by CORMA and some state agencies (INFOR and Fundacion Chile) in creating and maintaining that scheme. A related reason may be political: embracing only the FSC may be seen as a failure of the private/public partnerships to promote SFM through CERTFOR, and thus a capitulation to green groups by the industry. Maintaining CERTFOR may also have provided large companies sufficient leverage to negotiate a lesser regulatory burden in the periodic revisions of the FSC standard. Further, as Johansson (2014) reported, the large forestry businesses may have decided to maintain dual certification to broaden the range of international markets for their products.

Overall, by participating in the FSC economic chamber, the large-scale industry has influenced the FSC governance from "the inside" in a such a way to make the FSC standardsetting process less strict, which is consistent with a number of examples worldwide (e.g. Cashore et al. 2004).

More recently, a convergence between the two schemes has been evident. For example, the 2016 version of the CERTFOR scheme encompasses a number of requirements to "keep up with" the FSC, including restoration plans for converted natural areas, better monitoring programs, and enhanced mitigation measures. Such convergence has already occurred elsewhere, e.g. Norway and the USA (Gulbrandsen 2010 and Cashore et al. 2004).

The Chilean case differs in some respects from that of its neighbouring country, Argentina. As noted by Burns et al. (2016), in the Argentinian case, the FSC was at the outset temporarily supported by the forestry sector and state agencies, but this support subsequently shifted towards the PEFC-endorsed CERFOAR, a more landowner-friendly scheme. However, in Argentina, the FSC scheme still has the largest certified area (469,122 ha) (FSC 2018) (cf. 247,135 ha under CERFOAR (PEFC 2018)). Burns et al. (2016) note that Chilean multinationals have invested strongly in the Argentinian forestry sector; hence, it seems likely that Argentinian forestry firms will maintain both certification schemes, as in Chile.

Different perceptions of forest certification schemes

The FSC has apparently dominated the SFM discourse from the outset in Chile. While some authors (Manuschevich 2016) point out how neoliberal policies have permeated some forestry discourses, these results shows that the Chilean SFM discourse seems to be dominated by FSC supporters, and is closer to an anti-neoliberal stance, even in the industry itself --thus gaining moral legitimacy (see Cashore et al. 2004). The particular history of plantation forestry expansion in Chile, under the Pinochet dictatorship, may have contributed to the moral legitimacy of an alternative discourse. The standing of the FSC scheme in key international markets for Chile's large-scale forest industries also means it is likely that the FSC scheme will continue to dominate, assuming that these export markets remain of primary importance for Chile. However, notwithstanding that CERTFOR remains little accepted by stakeholders outside the Chilean forest industry, it has consolidated its place in the Chilean forest sector for reasons noted above.


This study has explored the primary motivations behind Chilean forestry businesses' certification decisions and how they evolved, and those of their stakeholders related to certification. Two categories of company behaviour were observed. First, large plantation forestry businesses--particularly large multinationals--sought certification mainly to obtain social licence to operate, to maintain their traditional market access; secondarily and subsequently, the learning associated with certification and CSR motivations were also factors. Large companies' original expectations of certification were generally met, and certification as a policy instrument--particularly the FSC scheme (2.3 million ha)--demonstrated process effectiveness. Ultimately, this is evident in the overwhelming proportion of plantation forests (c. 74% of the gross forest area, 91% of the net forest area) in Chile that are now certified.

Whilst most large companies initially adopted Chile's own certification scheme, CERTFOR, they also embraced the FSC in the late 2000s, pressured by their overseas markets; but maintained CERTFOR to demonstrate coherence in their SFM discourse and broaden the range of their international markets. Moreover, the industry-oriented CERTFOR scheme has ultimately converged with the FSC scheme in such a way to gain moral legitimacy and acceptance beyond its original core audience. It is not yet clear if this convergence may change the negative perceptions of the CERTFOR scheme by stakeholders outside the industry.

In contrast, the second group of plantation SMEs and native forestry businesses did not seek certification to obtain social licence to operate, since they had no significant conflicts with their stakeholders. Rather, gaining international market access, learning and CSR motivations were major drivers of them predominantly seeking FSC certification. Outcomes related to the learning and CSR motivations met the original expectations of forest owners and managers. However, there were mixed outcomes concerning international market access, with most plantation SMEs succeeding in this respect, but most native forestry businesses reporting only modest market access outcomes. This may explain the low adoption rate of certification in native forestry businesses, and their continuing low dependence on foreign markets. This situation poses a challenge to policy-makers designing SFM programs to ameliorate native forest degradation, given the modest benefits for small forest owners in being certified.

The results of this research supported the utility of Tikina and Innes' (2008) framework, since its flexible approach allowed the use of combined qualitative and quantitative data sources to assess the effectiveness of certification. These results, thus, were largely consistent with certification motivations as those classified by Moore et al. (2012). Finally, while albeit contextual factors, as introduced by Cashore et al. (2007) and Romero et al. (2015), helped to explain the evolution of particular certification schemes in Chile, they may not be sufficient to envisage if social licence to operate will continue to be facilitated by certification, given the particularities of socio-political conflicts in the country.


The authors thank to the individuals and organisations in Chile who participated in this study, which contributed to the senior author's PhD studies at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University. The authors also acknowledge the valuable contribution of Dr Fred Gale to this study. This research was supported by the National Commission of Scientific and Technological Research of Chile (CONICYT), scholarship No 72090401. The funding source had no involvement in the research. The authors also thank the three anonymous reviewers whose feedback improved the paper.


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(a) Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Bldg 48 Linnaeus Way, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

(b) Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia


(1) Australian National University Human Ethics Protocol No 2012/250.
TABLE 1 Chilean forest area by forest type and ownership

Forest ownership                Forest type and area (ha)
Owner type              Native forests      Plantation forests

Private ownership
Large                   c. 2 173 116 (33%)  1 961 784 (63%)
Small and medium-sized  c. 4 412 085 (67%)  1 152 159 (36%)
Public ownership           8 048 578            1 700
Total                     14 633 779 (*)    3 113 943 (**)

Forest ownership
Owner type               Mixed forests (***)

Private ownership
Large                    n.d.
Small and medium-sized   n.d.
Public ownership         n.d.
Total                    179 125

Source: INFOR (2018) and from Leyton (2009).

Notes: n.d. = no data available. (*) There are no detailed national
data for native forest ownership. (**) Plantation forest area also
includes the
area covered by forest roads, log yards, and areas other than forest
stands within forest estates. (***) This category comprises a mix of
native and exotic plantation forests.

TABLE 2 Summary of interviewees by category

Type of informant                             Number of     Number of
                                              interviewees  firms

FSC and PEFC certified plantation
companies: forest owners/industry officers    15             8
Non-certified plantation companies:
forest owners/industry officers                3             3
FSC certified native forestry businesses:
forest owners/industry officers                5             3
Non-certified native forestry businesses:
forest owners/industry officers                5             5
Members of forestry associations               3            n/a
Forestry contractors (plantation forests)      4            n/a
Forestry workers                               2            n/a
Union representatives                          4            n/a
Non-Indigenous community members               2            n/a
Indigenous community members                   4            n/a
NGO members                                    7            n/a
Forestry authorities                           8            n/a
Labour authorities                             2            n/a
Researchers and forest consultants             5            n/a
Executives of forestry standard associations   3            n/a
Total                                         72            19

Source: first author's fieldwork

TABLE 3 Main forest certification drivers and rationales for Chilean
forestry businesses

Type of forestry          Identified drivers

Large plantation          * CSR motivations
forestry businesses
                          * Market access
                          * Social licence
                          * Learning
Small and medium-         * CSR motivations
sized plantation
forestry businesses
                          * Market access
                          * Learning
Native forestry           * CSR motivations
businesses (all scales)
                          * Market access

Type of forestry          Common statements

Large plantation          * Protection against criticism and
                            reputational damage from NGOs and the civil
forestry businesses         society.
                          * A means to maintain international market
                          * A tool to obtain the consent to operate
                            from Indigenous and local communities.
                          * Certification as "the best SFM guidelines".
Small and medium-         * A preventive measure to avoid NGO attacks
sized plantation            in the future.
forestry businesses       * A means to improve companies' reputational
                            capital and gain public recognition
                          * To follow a "global trend" and "getting on
                            the bandwagon" of certification.
                          * A means to gain international market access.
                          * Certification as the "right thing to do"
                            and "the best SFM guidelines".
Native forestry           * A means to improve companies' reputational
businesses (all scales)     capital and gain public
                          * A means to gain international market access.

Source: first author's interviews
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Author:Tricallotis, M.; Kanowski, P.; Gunningham, N.
Publication:International Forestry Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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