David Bennett spent much of this spring traveling across the world to evaluate the risks and benefits of forest contractor certification programs with an eye toward adapting the best practices he observed to strengthen forest management and the logging industry in his native Australia.

Traveling on a stipend from the Gottstein Trust, the Risk and Compliance Manger for PF Olsen Australia spent a week in Maine with the Northeast Master Logger Certification© (NEMLC) program midway through his trip. He found many strengths in the program, but one really stood out.

 “I think probably the biggest strength of Master Logger is it’s got such contractor ownership of it,” David said weeks later in a call from Sweden as he was nearing the end of his trip. “It’s got a real standard that contractors administer and own, I haven’t found anything else like that anywhere in the world.”

David’s observations about the program offer a rare chance to hear firsthand how the American Loggers Council (ALC) Master Logger Certification© program compares to other systems in place around the world. Long billed proudly as the only system of harvest verification created and controlled by loggers themselves, his experiences reviewing logging certification in multiple locations across Canada, the United States, and Europe suggest that claim is a valid and valuable one.

In some of the locations he visited, David did not get the opportunity to meet with loggers but instead dealt with public or private organizations administering whatever certification or logger oversight programs existed. During his visit to Maine, he therefore greatly appreciated the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Master Loggers in the woods on active logging jobs, at their places of business, and at a safety training event in Fort Kent, Maine offered by the state’s logger trade association, The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC), and NEMLC and open to all Maine Master Loggers.

“The training session I attended in Fort Kent was some of the most practical training I’ve seen anywhere,” David said.

 David got the opportunity to meet dozens of Maine Master Loggers, and visited multiple harvest sites of Master Logger company Western Maine Timberlands Inc. He left with a very favorable impression of Master Loggers, and of the program.

Ted Wright, Executive Director of the Northeast Master Logger Certification© program, spent three days with David helping him understand the program and the benefits Master Loggers participants find in it, including pride, professionalism, a marketing edge for their businesses, and -­ depending on what region of the country they are in -­ other benefits that can include insurance advantages and preference from mills and other timber consumers.

Master Logger Certification© is set apart from logger training programs in that it requires independent third party verification of logger harvesting practices. Because Master Logger Certification© is a voluntary, earned designation based on performance, it awards the certification only to true professionals in the industry who are willing to go through the evaluation process, something attendance based training programs were never designed to do.

Click to view the summary of programs David reviewed:



Further information


FOSP – collaborative safety audit program

https://fbbp.forestworks.co m.au/standards/safetyaudit


New Zealand

SafeTree Contractor




British Columbia, Canada

ForestSafe – SAFE




Kentucky, USA

Master Logger



Maine, USA

Master Logger




Nothing formal



PEFC Contractor Certification

https://www.pefc.org/disco ver-­pefc/our-­pefc-­ members/national-­



PEFC Contractor Certification

https://www.pefc.org/disco ver-­pefc/our-­pefc-­ members/national-­



FSC® International

Proposals for Contractor Certification

https://ic.fsc.org/en/news-­ updates/id/2214