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Strategic Geography

Synergies: Forest Certification; Social Forestry; Species Selection

Strategic Geography (SG) targets wood from a region, country, jurisdiction, state or municipality with specific sustainability outcomes. This can expand the sustainability benefits of wood by placing resources in areas of greatest need and benefit, and support legality and best practices at a regional level. Building on the idea of “jurisdictional approaches”, SG recognizes the systemic interaction of local laws, cultures, enforcement capacity, bio-physical characteristics, and socio-economic needs. Wood sourced from these specific areas are likely to do less harm and more good relative to climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Evidence and indicators allow consumers to choose geographies that are doing a good job of managing forest areas and distributing benefits to local people, and avoid areas with a recent history of exploitation and poor governance. In this way the market rewards conservation and penalizes deforestation.

Strategic Geography Examples

EU FLEGT Action PlanRio Branco Declaration 

Sustainability Benefits

SG showcases and rewards best practices in sustainable forest management by region and builds regional recognition. It rewards governments (at all levels) for implementing policies and enforcement that protect forests. This penalizes illegality, poaching and corruption that continues to cause deforestation.

  • Jurisdictional approaches collectively across the globe have led to quantifiable decreases in deforestation and avoided emissions as a result.


  • Finding geographies that meet sustainability credentials and supply the needed product will require awareness of current political conditions to assess sustainability.

  • Working with NGO partners or FAO data will assist in the selection.  


  • This pathway specifically acknowledges that the legality and sustainability of wood harvesting can be strongly related to location. Avoiding sources from jurisdictions with high rates of illegal logging or weak government enforcement of forestry laws is the first step to minimize verification risk. Assurance of legality (1st or 3rd party documentation) may be requested in tendering. (See Verification Matrix)

How to Evaluate?

  • Level One:  Specify wood products with assured legality and traceability in tendering.

  • Level Two: Specify that wood is sourced only from jurisdictions that have signed formal commitments to slowing or reversing deforestation or have strong forestry laws that protect primary/native forests and prevent the degradation of secondary forest stock.

  • Level Three:  Develop and pilot an inter-municipal or inter-regional voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with a forest community or region to promote legal, sustainable wood in the city. 

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Example: Sourcing wood from Gabon can be seen as a strategic decision since the country has a strict forestry policy that demands all forest concessions follow FSC certification standards.

Actions to Include Pathway 

  1. Create a Wood Needs Report that outlines the anticipated demands of the project.

  2. Create a matrix of alternative sourcing geographies with respective sustainability profiles, available species, anticipated price, etc. Use the Jurisdictional Wood Sourcing Datasheet to start the process. Allow SG to influence species options (See SGS).

  3. Test SG purchasing options with local suppliers, retail, wholesale and local producers. What is actually available and at what expense?  

Use in Policy Making

  1. Specify or require procurement of wood from countries with reciprocal VPAs.

  2. Require legality to be assured in wood product purchases through other means.

  3. Specify wood from subnational jurisdictions with established sustainability requirements for their forests.

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