The costs and benefits of certification for community forests managed by traditional peoples in south-eastern Tanzania
Community forests managed by indigenous, traditional, and local communities must be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable for their benefits to persist. Certification of community forests communicates that products harvested there meet these standards. However, certification of community forests has been limited, particularly in Africa. Financial analysis, review of audit reports, and a survey of forest managers were used to explore monetary and non-monetary social costs and benefits of Forest Stewardship Council certification for 14 timberproducing community forests managed by traditional peoples in south-eastern Tanzania. Direct monetary costs of certification outweighed monetary benefits, threatening economic sustainability. Nevertheless, forest managers believed that community forests should retain certification because they valued its non-monetary benefits, which were consistent with the Forest Stewardship Council’s social principles. This study demonstrates that certification of community forests can help indigenous and traditional peoples ensure safe working conditions, strengthen forest tenure rights, sustain multiple community benefits, and protect culturally-important sites, however, financial barriers persist.