Priyangi Jayasinghe, M.Sc. (2005)

Thesis Title: Forest Certification in the Canadian Value-Added Wood Products Manufacturing Sector

Abstract: Third party forest certification has been recognized as a policy mechanism for achieving sustainable forest management (SFM), and has been in practice for more than a decade. In Canada, forest certification is reported to be gaining momentum, influencing both forest management practices and the forest products industry. However, little information is available on how forest certification affects the forest products industry. Questions like “what are forest products manufacturers’ attitudes towards forest certification” are rarely investigated, despite their importance to the progress of forest certification.

The scarcity of research is particularly evident in the Canadian value-added wood products manufacturing sector. A Canada-wide mail survey was conducted during April and July of 2004 among value-added wood products manufacturers to address this information gap in the industry. One thousand surveys were sent out. The response rate was 13.14%, with no statistically significant response bias. According to the results of the survey, 64.8% of Canadian value-added manufacturers are not interested in forest certification. Over seventeen percent of the sector (17.6%) is currently involved with forest certification, while another 17.6% is interested in becoming involved within the next five years. Two results were highlighted with regard to the majority’s lack of interest towards adopting forest certification: their low level of knowledge on forest certification and a perceived lack of consumer demand for certified forest products. In general, all respondents cared about sustainable forest management and the concept of forest certification, but were doubtful about forest certification’s ability to provide marketing and production-related benefits.

A logistic regression and a cluster analysis were conducted to distinguish between firms that are interested and not interested in forest certification. Logistic regression highlighted two points: firms that are not interested in forest certification had a significantly lower level of knowledge of chain of custody certification (chain of custody certification certifies the use of raw materials from certified forests in forest products); and firms that are interested in forest certification had a stronger belief that certification would help to differentiate them from their competition. Cluster analysis grouped firms that are interested in forest certification into two clusters: one cluster had a very positive attitude towards forest certification and its ability to provide benefits, while the other indicated that they would “wait and see” how consumer markets for certified forest products develop.

Co-Supervisor: Gary Bull

Current Position: Research Associate, Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND) Colombo, Sri Lanka