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. We hope you're all staying safe and well.
At the end of November, FSC updated their guidance due to the ongoing situation, to provide more options. Please do contact us to discuss your particular situation - our team are here to help.
If an on-site audit isn't 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 or hybrid audit to substitute* an on-site audit
We'll undertake a risk assessment against the criteria developed by both FSC and PEFC to determine whether an audit can be conducted remotely if it's not possible to conduct on-site due to coronavirus restrictions. If a remote or hybrid (partly on-site, and partly remote) audit is possible, we'll contact you to make the necessary arrangements.
*depending on results of the audit, 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.
We continue to welcome new applicants. For FSC Forest Management applicants, where possible, we'll conduct the assessment either remotely or as a hybrid audit. For Chain of Custody, this will depend on your business, so please do contact us to discuss.
Under PEFC rules, we're currently unable to carry out a full re-assessment audit remotely.
Under the FSC rules, we're only able to carry out a full re-assessment audit remotely or in a hybrid manner under particular conditions. If this is really not possible, we may be able to extend the validity of your certificate by arranging a remote surveillance.
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 2021. 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
- FSC® COVID-19 Update for CBs
- PEFC COVID-19: Guidance for certification bodies and certified companies
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 Certification Officer or 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.