This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .
Since its creation more than two decades ago as a voluntary market-based approach to improving forest management, forest certification has proliferated rapidly in developing countries. Yet we know little about whether and under what conditions it affects deforestation. We use rich forest management unit-level panel data—including information on deforestation, certification, regulatory permitting, and geophysical and socioeconomic land characteristics—along with matched fixed effects models to identify the effect of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on deforestation in Mexico, the country with the third-highest number of FSC certifications in the developing world. We test for a variety of different temporal and subgroup effects but are unable to reject the null hypothesis that certification does not affect deforestation. Although these results do not indicate that FSC certification has no effect on forest management, they do suggest that its impact on deforestation may be limited.