"Certification is a procedure by which a third party gives written assurance / commercial label evidencing a product, process or service is conform to specific standards on the basis of an audit conducted according to agreed procedures."
(Bass and al., 2001)
"Forest certification is a market instrument to promote sustainable forest management based on environmental, economic and social factors. It provides an independent evaluation of forest management practices by the idea of an international recognized standards (or nationally) and also monitoring the sale of forest products. If the forest is managed according to a set of clear standards and that its wood products are monitored and explained to all stages of production, it can get a recognized certification on the market. "
(Glossary of Forestry terminology, Canadian Forest Service, 2003)
Forest certification certifies that a person (or entity) who operates a forest, harvests while thinking of future generations (concept of sustainable management).
The certificate testifies that the exploitation of a forest meets the terms of all the requirements of a defined standard for sustainable forest management.
The verification of the implementation of this standard is performed by an independent and accredited agency to perform audits.
Accreditation is the process by which an agency empowered officially recognizes both the technical competence and impartiality that a structure (organization or individual) can proceed with the certification of an organization client on the basis of a benchmark selected. The accreditation of an organization for a specific role and functions involves:
- A set of procedures to "verify" the ability of the agency to play this role and to perform such functions,
- A set of rights and obligations (often known by its customers or users) that the accredited organization respects.
"An audit is a systematic, independent and documented process to obtain evidence and to evaluate it objectively in order to determine the extent to which audit criteria (set of policies, procedures or specified requirements) are satisfied."