Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards support enhancement of certified forests. However, the performance of certified forests in enhancing forest structure has rarely been examined empirically. Forest structure, human forest use and forest governance indicators are assessed in a comparative study of FSC-certified community forests, open access forests (non-FSC) and state forest reserves (non-FSC) in Kilwa District, Tanzania. The FSC-certified forests have better forest structure, appropriate regeneration, and lower fire incidences than open access forests and state forest reserves. Certified forests also provide more economic benefits to communities compared to non-FSC forests. These findings imply that forest certification could be an appropriate management intervention, and that adoption of FSC standards may lead to more effective management in human-dominated landscapes. However, because of the short time certification has been operational, it is hard to precisely identify all effects of certification. Further empirical evidence on effects, in space and time, is therefore desirable.
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Vol. 17 • No. 2