A cornerstone of the SFI program is third-party independent certification, which verifies that the requirements set out in the relevant SFI standard and supporting documents have been met. Competent, accredited Independent certification bodies evaluate planning, procedures and processes in the forest, in the mill or in the plant to ensure they conform to SFI requirements – whether it is for the Forest Management, Fiber Sourcing or Chain-of-Custody Standard.
Certification bodies must complete an accreditation program before they are approved to perform certification audits to any of the SFI Standards. A list of accredited certification bodies is posted below.
Organizations and forest managers wishing to make public claims regarding their SFI certification for forest management or fiber sourcing must first submit a summary of audit findings performed by an accredited third-party certification body. The summaries are prepared by the certification body and include general descriptions of conformities, non-conformities, corrective action plans, opportunities for improvement, and exceptional practices.
A certificate for forest management, fiber sourcing or chain of custody is issued only after the independent certification body determines a specific operation conforms to the relevant SFI requirements. Annual surveillance audits are mandatory on all certified operations. Full recertification audits are also required: for forest management and fiber sourcing certificates, every three years; and for chain-of-custody certificates, every five years.
As PEFC’s National Governing Body for the United States, SFI Inc issues annual notification contracts with accredited certification bodies for the PEFC chain of custody standard applied in the U.S. and the SFI Forest Management standard in both the U.S. and Canada.