Forest certification is perhaps the best example of a voluntary governance structure for addressing environmental spillovers. Competing forest certification schemes have evolved. At the global level, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification focus on environmental processes and sustainable management of forestland, respectively. Regional/domestic schemes have been started by industry and/or landowners to compete with the FSC system. The main difference between FSC certification and the others is that the FSC relies on regulation by a non-state private regulator, while the others employ a form of self-regulation. In this study, survey data from firms in Canada, the United States and Germany are used to investigate factors that cause firms to prefer and/or choose a particular certification scheme. The findings indicate that market access is an important reason why forest firms certify, but it is an insufficient reason for them to pick the FSC system despite opinion polls that reveal a preference for FSC-style certification. Rather, firms prefer (participate in) FSC certification because they perceive it to confer environmental benefits, while those choosing another certification scheme do so on economic grounds. Finally, as companies become increasingly aware of their certification options, they are less likely to pursue FSC certification.

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Keywords Competing forest certification schemes, Governance structures, Self-regulation, Voluntary environmental programs
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Journal Forest Policy and Economics
Cashore, B. (Benjamin), Van Kooten, G.C. (G. Cornelis), Vertinsky, I. (Ilan), Auld, G, & Affolderbach, J. (Julia). (2005). Private or self-regulation? A comparative study of forest certification choices in Canada, the United States and Germany. Forest Policy and Economics, 7(1), 53–69. doi:10.1016/S1389-9341(03)00011-X