Outline of the general Group Certification Process (as identified and employed as part of the Pilot Project Initiative).  


Step 1: Enquiry from Applicant

Group Manager will issue Application documents (Group Rules and Group Member Application & Consent Form).

Step 2: Receipt completed Application

Group Manager receives completed application and may request additional information from Applicant before entry to the Group can be accepted. A field inspection could also be required.
Application is processed and , if successful, accepted.

Step 3: Request for FMP & location map, Invoice for Yr 1 raised

Group Manager will request completion of Stakeholder List by Applicant member and will request copy of long term Forest Management Plan (FMP), Forest Inventory & Work Plan and location map. Group Manager will supply Site Notice to Applicant member and will raise Invoice for Yr1 Initial Audit fee. Stakeholder consultation may be required on any new FMP, but the Group Manager/Certification Body can decide to combine the Stakeholder consultation of new FMPs with the initial or subsequent Group Certification Stakeholder consultation period.

Step 4: Receipt of Audit Fee, FMP & location map

Payment for Yr1 Initial audit fee received and stakeholder list, FMP and location map received [additional stakeholder details may be requested by the Group Manager].
Group Manager will prepare Forest Data Record in readiness for Initial audit.

Step 5: Stakeholder Consultation

Commencement of stakeholder consultation period. Applicant member will be notified of commencement date of stakeholder consultation.
Group Manager will require confirmation of display of Site Notice at key woodland access point(s) [photo of site notice in place].

Step 6: Audit

In Year 1 the Initial audit or Main Audit (MA) is carried out against one or both (for dual-certification) of the full endorsed Ireland standards [after stakeholder consultation period]. This will include, but is not limited to, review of 20 Year FMP, 5 Year work programme, and associated management and sales records, Review of Forest Data Record, Review of stakeholder responses [follow up/feedback/meetings - as required]
Presentation of initial findings on site [additional information may be requested]. Audit report will generally be supplied within a defined period of time.

NOTE: All Audit Reports are made Publicly Available.

Step 7: Confirmation of Group Entry

The Group Manager will review Final audit report and Group membership registration will be confirmed when any identified issues have been addressed.
The Applicant member will receive Confirmation of Membership after successful registration.

Surveillance Audits (SA)

After the initial Main Assessment (MA) in Year 1, an annual Surveillance Audit (SA) of the Group takes place for the next 4 years [after stakeholder consultation period]. During a Surveillance Audit a sample of the group is visited and audited against approximately one-third of the National Forest Certification Standard (or both National Standards for dual-certification). The aim is to visit different members of the group over the 5-year validity of the Certificate, unless there is a requirement to revisit a particular property to close out a previous Non-Conformity.

NOTE: All Audit Reports, including Surveillance Audit Reports, are made Publicly Available.

Reassessment Audit (RA)

When the Certificate comes up for renewal or reassessment after 5 years, a Reassessment Audit (RA) of the Group takes place. This is effectively the same procedure as the Main Assessment described above, as this is carried out against one or both (for dual-certification) of the full endorsed Ireland standards [after stakeholder consultation period].

NOTE: Group Certification does not only audit the member forests against the National Forest Certification Standards, but also audits the Group Manager and the Group Management Procedures against the Group Certification Standard.
As there are periodic changes to International Certification Requirements, the Group Management Procedures may require updating from time to time to reflect these changes.