Ecosystem Services certification in Chile and Argentina
How FSC®’s Ecosystem Services certification is making a difference for South American forests
Last year, Soil Association Certification issued the first FSC Ecosystem Services certificates to two of our existing Forest Management certificate holders - Forestal Arauco S.A., based in Chile, and Arauco Argentina S.A., in Argentina. The certificates have been awarded for Recreation Services and Biodiversity Conservation, respectively.
What are ‘Ecosystem services’?
Ecosystem services are the benefits that we obtain from nature, covering water (watershed services), carbon sequestration and storage, biodiversity and soil conservation, and recreational services – these services provide society with a wide range of benefits, from reliable flows of clean water to productive soil and protection of wildlife. The FSC Forest Stewardship Standards already require forest managers to maintain and conserve, or enhance and restore, ecosystem services and environmental values.
Helping Forest Managers to demonstrate their sustainable commitments
The assessments were carried out during 2019 and involved a review of documentation, field verification, and interviews with relevant stakeholders. They were conducted by Soil Association Certification auditors with relevant experience in the specific services being assessed. To streamline the process, the Ecosystem Services assessments took place at the same time as the certificate holder’s FSC Forest Management surveillance audits, which not only helped to reduce costs, but the time required for multiple visits.
Encouraging eco-tourism in Chile
In June 2019, we completed Forestal Arauco S.A.’s Ecosystem Services verification, combined with their FSC Forest Management surveillance audit. The ecosystem services declared in Oncol Park - the area that Arauco manage - were identified as ‘recreation services’ through verifying the positive impacts their management is having on the conservation of areas of importance for recreation and tourism, and the conservation of populations of species of interest for nature-based tourism.2,3
Oncol Park is a private protected wildlife area created by Arauco in 1989, comprised of 1,863 acres of forest. This beautiful area is home to a unique ecosystem, the Valdivian forest of the Coastal Mountain Range, also known as the Valdivian rainforest. The Coastal Mountains are rich in biodiversity, with a large number of flora and fauna species that are native to the area, including over 28 fern species and 9 amphibian species. The park is a well-known nature and ecotourism destination, with activities such as canopy, birdwatching and trekking available to visitors. Well-known as a nature and ecotourism destination, the park offers activities such as canopy, birdwatching and trekking to visitors.
The management activities implemented by Forestal Arauco in Oncol Park have demonstrated that the area is protected and accessible to carry out recreation activities in nature – they’ve achieved this in a number of ways:
- By increasing the area from 754ha in 2011 to 2,481ha in 2018
- Making visitors’ experiences more positive, through reducing the number of accidents, illegal activities, and increasing the visitor’s numbers per year
- Activities to increase the number of native fauna species within the park, as well as promoting awareness of the presence and protection of endemic flora and fauna to visitors – increased sightings of animals during monitoring activities include Cougars (Puma concolor) and the South American Gray Fox (Lycalopex griseus)
At Forestal Arauco, we’ve enthusiastically welcomed the chance to extend our Forest Management certification scope to enable us to declare our ecosystem services. We see this as a great opportunity to increase our capacity for learning and dialogue in order to become a more mature organization and to demonstrate that the forest is much more than just wood fibre and timber, since it provides several services to the community, society and the planet.
Obtaining this international recognition validates the efforts developed over many years in the area, not only as a space for education, knowledge and the biodiversity that this unique place in the Valdivian Forest hosts, but also for economic and social development opportunities for the communities all around Oncol Park.Eduardo Melo, Forestal Arauco
Conserving species diversity for future generations in Argentina
Arauco Argentina S.A.’s Ecosystems Services certificate was awarded in Decemeber 2019 for demonstrating the positive impacts in the conservation of species diversity in two different forest locations. These are home to an abundance of endemic flora and fauna, including Jaguar (Panthera onca), in Iguazu’s Department, and Marsh Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), in Paraná Delta’s area.
The two species are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, both nationally and globally. Scientific research has been undertaken over the last 13 years, confirming that these forests are key for the conservation of jaguar. Under Arauco Argentina’s management of San Jorge and Campo de los Palmitos Native Forests, annual sightings of jaguars went from 8 to 33 in 10 years (2008 – 2018), resulting in a density of 2.13 individuals/100km2.
Arauco Argentina S.A.’s management activities, together with scientific research carried out in their Forest Management Units (FMU’s) - located in Iguazu’s Department - also demonstrated that densities of jaguar females, and females with cubs, increased until 2014; their numbers have since been maintained. The relative abundance of the jaguar’s main food source remained constant between 2014 and 2018, and cases of illegal hunting have also decreased since 2014.
For the marsh deer, management activities implemented in FMU’s within the Paraná Delta’s area demonstrated that the quality of their habitat area improved, according to data collected from 2013 to 2018. The abundance of marsh deer have remained stable within that time period and the number of illegal hunting cases in the FMU’s haven’t increased.
Ecosystem Services verification
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) introduced their Ecosystems Services procedure in 2018, which aims to reward those who responsibly manage forests, thereby preserving ecosystem services1. The procedure offers a framework for verifying impacts and approving claims that can be used by forest managers to access ecosystem services markets and other benefits. It sets out the requirements for FSC certified forest managers to credibly demonstrate the impact of their activities on the maintenance, conservation, restoration or enhancement of ecosystem services.
Soil Association Certification is now offering Ecosystem Services certification as an addition to Forest Management certification, allowing our clients to make specific claims about the ecosystem services provided by their forests.
Want to find out more?
To discover more of the work we do and enquire about FSC certification, Ecosystem Services and becoming certified, please contact the Forestry team.
 For more information on Ecosystem Services, visit the FSC® Ecosystem Services web page
 Guidance for Demonstrating Ecosystem Services Impacts, Forest Stewardship Council, 2018, p.50
 Guidance for Demonstrating Ecosystem Services Impacts, Forest Stewardship Council, 2018, p.52