Third-party certification (TPC) is a service industry that verifies products and processes such as food safety and quality; good management practices; labour practices; and environmental standards (Hatanaka, Bain and Busch 2005). The industry requires on-site audits by disinterested organizations connected to neither buyer nor seller (Busch et al. 2005). in agribusiness, TPC became “a key institution for enforcing private (and public) standards that is both independent from producers … and from governments” (Hatanaka, Bain and Busch 2005) that provides an independent check on corporate responsibility and due diligence (Busch et al. 2005; Fischer et al. 2005; Hatanaka, Bain and Busch 2005).
Certification in natural forest management (hereafter forestry certification) is a relatively new form of TPC that took flight in 1993 with the founding of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The concept verifies compliance to a broad array of national and international concerns, such as tenure rights and labour equity (social issues), deforestation and genetically modified organisms (environmental issues), and illegal wood and tax evasion (legal issues). Forestry certification aims to achieve pre-defined qualities of natural forest management, to differentiate products originating from such forests and to improve their market access (after Nussbaum and Simula 2005).
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