Chain-of-custody certification in the Appalachian hardwood region
Baker, Iris Camicia
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The objectives of this study were to determine the reasons manufacturers in the hardwood industry pursue certification and how certification pursuance affects a firm’s competitive position and market access. A survey of primary hardwood manufacturers in the Appalachian region was conducted in the fall of 2008 to obtain information on chain-of-custody (COC) certification and the hardwood industry. The survey was distributed to 1,239 primary hardwood manufacturers and generated a response rate of 19 percent. Case studies of two forest products trade associations and one group certification program also were conducted to determine how these organizations can influence the certification process. Research results indicated that, on average, the respondents were primarily smaller-sized firms that operated single-site facilities. The results also showed that most respondents preferred SFI as their certification scheme and they first learned of certification through their customers. It was concluded there was no evidence of an association between firm size, vertical integration status, globalization, product markets, and certification status. It was also concluded, that veneer was the only product type that had a significant relationship with certification status and that there was significant evidence of an association between trade association membership and certification status. From the case studies, it was concluded that group certification programs have been instrumental in increasing awareness of certification and providing the necessary tools members need to become certified. Through these programs, the supply of certified hardwood roundwood and products has increased, and more companies have become COC certified. These results reiterate the idea that the hardwood products industry is a unique entity that has specific needs and concerns that must be addressed so the complexity and expense of existing certification systems will not exclude sustainable hardwood lumber from COC markets.