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Covid 19, Update for Forestry Certificate Holders

COVID-19, Update for Forestry Certificate Holders

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Soil Association Certification has introduced additional protocols to help assess the risks associated with our business activities.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has already affected the lives of everyone in some way, and its impact will continue for some time. Soil Association Certification is working with FSC® and PEFC in implementing measures to help our certificate holders maintain their certification in these extraordinary times.


If an on-site audit is not possible, please find a brief summary of your options below - if your audit is due in the next two months, please get in touch with your usual contact person at Soil Association Certification, or the agent we work with in your country, to discuss how to proceed.

Remote audit to substitute* an on-site surveillance audit

We'll undertake a risk assessment against the criteria developed by both FSC and PEFC to determine whether a surveillance audit can be conducted remotely. If a remote audit is possible, we'll contact you to make the necessary arrangements.

*depending on results of the remote surveillance, there may be a need to follow up with an on-site visit later in the year, otherwise your next on-site audit will be next year as per the regular annual schedule.

Re-assessments due in 2020

Under the FSC and PEFC rules, we aren't currently able to carry out a full re-assessment audit remotely. We, therefore, have the following options:

a) If an on-site re-assessment audit cannot be carried out, we'll try to arrange a remote surveillance audit (as per the above) prior to the expiry date. After a successful surveillance audit, we'll extend the validity of your certificate by 12 months and carry out the re-assessment next year

b) If (a) is not possible, due to an imminent expiry date, but a remote surveillance is potentially possible within 2020, we'll first extend the scope of your certificate for 12 months, and arrange an on-site or remote audit in 2020

Chain of Custody Group/Multi-Site certificate holders – Internal audits

Where on-site internal audits would normally be carried out, both FSC and PEFC are allowing remote internal audits to take place under certain conditions. For FSC, a completed risk assessment must be approved by Soil Association Certification before the group/multisite manager carries out remote audits of new participating sites. Please refer to the technical update for more information.

Forest Management Multi-Site/Group certificate holders – Internal audits

Where on-site internal audits would normally be carried out, both FSC and PEFC are allowing flexibility, for remote audits or delay to the end of 2020, respectively. Please refer to the technical update for more information.


FSC derogation for COC certificate holders - reduced labelling threshold in 'FSC Mix Percentage' products in the timber, furniture and construction industries

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, FSC have introduced a derogation providing measures to temporarily reduce the labelling threshold for 'FSC Mix Percentage' products in the timber, furniture and construction industry. Please refer to the technical update for more information. 

Auditor Training Courses

We have now arranged a series of remote auditor training courses- please see the Forestry Training section of the website for details and dates.

Further Information And Guidance 


Keeping You Up To Date

All staff, auditors and agents will follow the official advice in their country regarding hygiene measures. We all need to work together to maintain health and safety.

Communication with your Account Manager should remain the same and we'll continue to deliver a high level of service to you during this challenging time. To enable this, we have equipped all of our staff to be able to work from home.

We remain fully committed to supporting your business and ensuring the continuation of your certification throughout these challenging times.

We'll continue to update our Forestry News pages with any new information or guidance as it becomes available.