American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Certification

Responsible forest management for private landowners and family-owned forests

What is American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Certification?

Certification under the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) helps family forests and private landowners in the United States to credibly demonstrate upholding the highest environmental standards. ATFS is endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which enables supply chains and companies sourcing products from ATFS certified woodlands to receive recognition in international markets. ATFS certified woodlands are a principal source of fiber for chain of custody programs under PEFC internationally and Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) in the US and Canada.

With millions of acres of ATFS certified forests in the United States, ATFS is the largest and oldest family forest certification program. To achieve certification, landowners must undergo an independent assessment by a third-party certification body to ensure they have met the Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification under the ATFS. The system recognizes landowners that demonstrate sustainable management of the forest, including the wood, watersheds, healthy wildlife habitats, and recreation those working lands provide.

Why Choose SCS?

With SCS Global Services’ expertise in third-party forest management certifications since 1994, our thorough audits will reduce risk and instill confidence in the sustainable management of your forest. You will receive a customer-focused experience at SCS with an accessible account manager, prompt and helpful responses, and a dedicated team of experts to guide you through the certification process.

We are headquartered in the US and have a record of accomplishment of quality work with long-term knowledge and continuity, auditing for responsible forestry and chain-of-custody certifications such as Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), SFI, and PEFC.

  • Benefits
  • FAQs
  • Process
  • Program Documents
  • Achieve international recognition for commitment to sustainable stewardship of your land
  • Meet demand for certified sustainably sourced wood products in the supply chain
  • Be part of the growing list of 19 million+ acres of ATFS certified family woodlands
  • Learn best practices for responsible forestry by utilizing the tools and resources in the ATFS community
  • Protect the future of your family legacy by keeping your forests healthy and productive for years to come

What are the certification options for ATFS?

ATFS provides three options to achieve certification: via a State Tree Farm Committee program, an independently managed group program, or an individual third-party certificate.

What do I need to get started with ATFS certification?

Before seeking certification, forest owners must have a management plan in place that addresses air, water, soil quality, wildlife, special sites, invasive species, and integrated pest management as described in the ATFS Standards of Sustainability.

How many acres of woodlands do I need in order to get ATFS certified?

The eligibility requirements are between 10 and 10,000 acres of woodlands to be considered for certification.

How can I pass along ATFS claims down the supply chain?

To pass on claims for products sourced from ATFS certified forests, a chain of custody certificate from SFI or PEFC is required. SCS provides chain of custody audits under these standards. Please contact us for more information.

How much does ATFS certification cost?

Prices for SCS auditing services vary depending on the location, size, and complexity of your operation. To obtain a free quote, please contact SCS.

How long does the ATFS certification process take?

At SCS, customer service and responsiveness is a priority. We typically are able to send our auditors to your woodland, provide you with an audit report, and make a certification decision within 6 to 8 weeks of starting the project. Larger and more complex projects may take longer.

How long is my ATFS certificate valid?

An ATFS certificate is valid for three years. Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain your certificate.

  1. Landowner develops a forest management plan in accordance with the ATFS Standards of Sustainability
  2. Landowner contacts SCS to request a quote for third-party assessment
  3. SCS prepares audit plan and collects information from client necessary for planning the audit
  4. SCS performs an on-site assessment to verify conformance with the standard, which includes property inspection, document review, and interviews
  5. SCS prepares draft report and provides any audit findings and recommendations, client responds to comments, and SCS finalizes the report
  6. If conformance is met, SCS certifies landowner under ATFS; ATFS notifies appropriate state leadership; and landowner can register their farm in the ATFS Verification Database and request a Certified Family Forest or Certified Tree Farm sign
  7. Annual ATFS audits are required to verify ongoing conformance and certification

SCS can also provide client marketing support

File Name Document
Application - Forest Conservation Program English
ATFS Certification English

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Forestry Business Group