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Abstract

Adaptive certification is the best remaining option for the trophy hunting industry in Africa to demonstrate sustainable and ethical hunting practices that benefit local communities and wildlife conservation.
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© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
Trophy hunting certification
Adaptive certification is the best remaining option for the trophy hunting industry in Africa to demonstrate
sustainable and ethical hunting practices that benefit local communities and wildlife conservation.
Thomas C. Wanger, Lochran W. Traill, Rosie Cooney, Jonathan R. Rhodes and Teja Tscharntke
The killing of well-known lions in 2015
and 2017 has sparked a polarized
debate around trophy hunting, and led
to bans on entry oflegally acquired trophies
into key consumer countries. Such bans are
a reaction to concerns about unethical or
unsustainable hunting practices, but they do
not consider the complex trade-offs around
land and resource use in Africa, and the role
that regulated hunting can play in wildlife
conservation. Here, we propose an adaptive
trophy hunting certification scheme that is
a market-based solution for sustainable and
ethical hunting practices, building on the
lessons learned from other natural resource-
use certification schemes. We argue that
integrating effective compliance and wildlife
monitoring, adaptive co-management and
a landscape approach into a certification
scheme will spark a constructive discussion
of trophy hunting, achieving conservation-
and community-development objectives.
We propose a scheme that is routed through
the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
(CITES), and where the cost of accreditation
is borne by the hunting industry.
Certification may be the last option for the
trophy hunting industry to demonstrate
and assure sustainable practices that benefit
wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods.
The trophy hunting debate
The debate around ‘conservation hunting’
is not new, but we elaborate on some of the
key points here to provide context1,2.
The principal argument in favour of trophy
hunting in Africa is that the benefits
generated through hunting can encourage
the conservation of land — and wildlife
populations therein — that may otherwise
be lost to competing land uses such as
agricultural or urban expansion2. So far, the
revenues and other socio-economic and
livelihood benefits gained through hunting
have driven land-use changes across large
areas of private land in southern Africa
from pastoralism towards wildlife, and have
provided incentives for community-based
natural resource management programmes3.
Full bans on hunting in some African
countries, notably Tanzania (1973–1978)
and Zambia (2000–2003), led to a loss of
biodiversity as a consequence of the loss of
economic incentives3.
Contrastingly, valid criticism of the
trophy hunting industry centres on issues
around animal welfare, disruption to
age–sex structures of targeted populations,
localized extinction events and the failure of
income to reach local communities1,2. Much
of the unethical and unsustainable practice
that occurs within the hunting industry
is a consequence of weak institutions
and judiciaries, as well as fragile and
inequitable economies in many African
countries. Currently, there are no coherent
international mechanisms to ensure
transparent and sustainable trophy hunting
practices to overcome these criticisms and
leverage the benefits for wildlife populations
and human livelihoods.
Certification in trophy hunting
The most progressive, yet unrealized,
solution is hunting certification — a
consumer-focused mechanism whereby
hunting operators adhere to strict
environmental, social and ethical criteria.
Certification could provide guidance to the
consumer and would allow the market to
promote good practice.
Despite past discussions on the
certification of the trophy hunting
industry3, there are practically no
certified hunting operators in Africa.
Savannas Forever in Tanzania, a non-
governmental organization (NGO),
attempted a certification scheme in
the mid-2000s, but this failed, due in
part to collusion between a corrupt
political elite and hunting operators
that refused examination of trophies
for age determination or to engage
with local communities4. While there
are many sources of guidance for good
hunting practice, we are not aware of
other attempts to use these as a basis for
certification in Africa. Below we look at
certification schemes of other extractive
industries for guidance.
Other certification schemes
Certification/accreditation schemes such
as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and
Rainforest Alliance are part of a voluntary,
market-based, international standards
system with strict criteria that allow the use
of a recognizable label. Such schemes, and
the associated labels, are now widespread.
For example, FSC-accredited agencies
have certified over 500 forestry operations,
accounting for more than 29 million
hectares in 56 countries5, and the MSC
accounts for over 12% of world catch and
nearly 22,000 products carry the MSC ‘blue
tag’ in over 70 countries6. Agricultural
certification further accounts for a
significant proportion of tropical crops such
as coffee, cocoa and palm oil7.
One reason why such schemes have
proliferated is because of the support
provided by enabling institutional structures
and networks. Following pioneering efforts
by the World Wide Fund for Nature and
private industries to initiate FSC and MSC,
several certification organizations created
the International Social and Environmental
Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL)
Alliance (http://www.isealalliance.org) to
develop multi-sector sustainability standards
and to act as a strong multi-stakeholder
platform. This platform has allowed
stewardship councils to influence consumer
choice through public pressure on relevant
government authorities, as well as raise
environmental awareness and elevate the
profiles of eco-labels.
The success of certification of extractive
industries is subject to ongoing debate,
but there are clearly documented positive
outcomes. Certified seafood, for example, is
three to five times less likely to be subject to
harmful fishing8, and certified organic farms
are more biodiversity friendly9. However, a
review of certification initiatives of fisheries,
agriculture and tourism found only weak
evidence for positive environmental, social
and economic effects10. Moreover, MSC-
certified fisheries have been criticized for
overfishing, high levels of bycatch and
incompetence11. Accreditation schemes
have also been accused of failing to
adequatelyconsider livelihood issues when
specifying their goals, inadvertently creating
trade barriers for developing nations and
the unattainability of criteria for small-scale
producers12.
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Adaptive trophy hunting certification
We propose a trophy hunting certification
scheme that leverages existing institutional
frameworks and international networks for
an enabling environment, and that builds
on strong market demand for sustainable
hunting practices. It also explicitly integrates
monitoring of compliance and conservation
outcomes and uses these to inform
adaptation of the certification criteria over
time (Fig.1). The monitoring framework
provides a strong evidence base for
continual improvement of the certification
scheme and ensures, for instance, that
livelihood issues are considered and criteria
can be met by small-scale producers.
Leveraging international networks
An effective trophy hunting certification
scheme should be routed through CITES,
the primary framework for regulating
international movement of trophies through
established quotas. CITES has experience
in co-developing enabling structures for
improved communication and information
sharing between relevant agencies, as for
law enforcement agencies in Europe and
Africa involved in combating wildlife crime
(that is, the European Union Trade in
Wildlife Information Exchange, http://www.
eu-twix.org/; the Africa Trade in Wildlife
Information Exchange, http://www.traffic.
org/home/2016/2/16/platform-to-enhance-
collaboration-in-countering-illegal-wild.
html). Such monitoring structures and tight
networks among the involved stakeholders
are useful for wildlife trade issues in Africa,
and almost certainly for trophy hunting
certification. Transparent sustainability
standards for trophy hunting should be
developed through ISEAL in collaboration
with hunting industry stakeholders.
The certification scheme could achieve
credibility by partnering with major
conservation organizations with expertise
and infrastructure on the ground.
Certification costs
The western-based hunting market is
generally supportive of wildlife conservation
and community empowerment. Indeed,
86% of trophy hunters visiting Africa were
more likely to purchase a hunting package
that benefitted local communities than one
that did not.Up to 99% were unwilling to
support hunting operators that were not
conservation friendly3, and hunters were
prepared to pay an additional US$3,900
for 10% of their overall hunting fees to be
redistributed to local communities13. This
demand for hunting packages certified for
environmental and social benefits allows
certified hunting operators to charge
premium prices that can be used to cover
certification costs.
Nonetheless, the coverage of certification
costs remains one of the key challenges
to implementing trophy hunting
certification. Under MSC, for example,
cost of accreditation is between US$15,000
and US$120,000(ref.11) with a median
of US$67,000, and annual certification
fees for a certifiable unit range from
US$200 to US$2,000 (https://www.msc.
org/get-certified/use-the-msc-ecolabel/
costs). However, the cost of hunting
operator accreditation could be spread over
time, and a premium for a certified hunt
should be passed on to hunters, given that
interviewed hunters were prepared to pay
up to US$3,900 for hunting that benefits
communities.
Eective certification criteria
The criteria for our proposed certification
scheme will need to ensure (1) adequate
benefits of hunting to landowners and/or
relevant communities; (2) species-specific
quotas and strict limits on minimum age
and trophy size; and (3) ethical standards
(Box1). Achieving these objectives will
require effective monitoring of certification
performance and subsequent modification
of the certification scheme where objectives
are not met. An effective monitoring
programme must extend beyond a narrow
focus on monitoring hunting operator
compliance to the broader monitoring of the
conservation and social benefits. A key role
for a wider monitoring remit is evaluating
the effectiveness of certification criteria to
achieve conservation and social objectives
and to trigger improvement of these criteria
over time. Major conservation NGOs and
the creation of new institutional structures
could play a leading role in facilitating
adaptive co-management, collaborative
learning, and monitoring among local
communities, government agencies, hunting
operators and other relevant organizations14.
Engagement with these institutional
structures could also be a certification
requirement. A key aspect of this approach
should be the continued re-evaluation of
the certification criteria in response to
monitoring data on conservation and social
benefits, quotas and ethical standards; an
explicitly adaptive approach administered by
the NGOs.
Focusing on landscapes
Trophy hunting certification also needs
to address a key challenge inherent to
all resource-use certification schemes:
the integration of a global sustainability
standard with variable local environments
and multi-stakeholder perspectives15.
Specifically, land tenure can be private,
communal or state-owned, and different
groups of local people may use land for
subsistence or commercial cropping,
livestock farming and wild animal harvest
across the different tenures. A landscape
approach, whereby the entire landscape
ISEAL (with stakeholders) Criteria and standard
development/refinement
Monitoring and feedbackCITES NGO (certification body)
Hunting clients
Payments for certification
and benefits
BenefitsCommunitiesWildlife populations
Certification
Hunting operators
(certifiable unit) Criteria-based performance
Fig. 1 | Schematic overview of adaptive trophy hunting certification. International institutions and
networks (ISEAL, NGOs and CITES) provide the background to develop criteria and standards. An NGO
may act as the certification body and certifies the hunting operator (light blue arrow). Hunting clients
pay hunting operators and provide the financial resources (orange arrows) to pay for the benefits of
wildlife populations and rural communities, and thecosts of the certification body. Hunting operators
and overall benefits are monitored by the NGO and CITES based on criteria that can be improved
through adaptive management and in close discussion with ISEAL (dark blue arrows).
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© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
is certified, may be a tangible solution to
achieve broader sustainability criteria, such
as the protection of ecosystem services that
are critical for local communities(Box 1).
It would also increase the cost efficiency
of certification because a conglomerate,
instead of individual hunting operators, can
be certified at once. The adaptive learning
and co-management framework would
be particularly well suited to certification
on landscape scales where collaboration
among many communities, government
agencies, hunting operators and certification
institutions will be key.
Conclusions
Trophy hunting must follow sustainable
practices to minimize harmful effects
on wildlife populations, benefit rural
communities and be able to demonstrate
these to ensure a continued social licence
to operate. We argue that an adaptive
certification scheme can contribute to
conservation efforts and livelihoods. To be
successful, such a scheme should be linked
to international standard-setting bodies
and conservation organizations, leverage
an existing market, and build on effective
monitoring and adaptive co-management
strategies. Combined with a landscape-
level approach, this may serve as a role
model for best practice natural resource-use
certification. However, availability of expertise
and credible information on the conduct and
impact of trophy hunting are necessary.
Indeed, given the shift in public opinion
towards trophy hunting, the industry faces
possible extinction through increased
international sanctions, poor community
relations and over-exploitation of wildlife
populations. Thus, it seems to be in the
direct interest of the trophy hunting
industry to embrace hunting certification
for sustainable practices that can create
opportunities for wildlife and livelihood
benefits. Failing this, alternative sources of
funding for the conservation effort in Africa
will need to be sourced.
Thomas C. Wanger1,2*, Lochran W. Traill3,4*,
Rosie Cooney5,6, Jonathan R. Rhodes7,8,9 and
Teja Tscharntke1
1
Agroecology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen,
Germany.
2
Department of Ecology, Swedish
University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala,
Sweden.
3
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology,
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool,
UK.
4
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental
Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa.
5
Interdisciplinary
Environmental Studies, University of New South
Wales, New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
6
IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and
Livelihoods Specialist Group, New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia.
7
ARC Centre of Excellence for
Environmental Decisions, University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
8
School of
Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of
Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
9
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science,
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland,
Australia. *e-mail: tomcwanger@gmail.com;
lochran.traill@gmail.com
Published online: 21 November 2017
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0387-0
References
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Acknowledgements
T.C.W. was funded by the Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences. L.W.T. was supported by a
Carnegie Corporation of New York Fellowship through
the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute,
University of the Witwatersrand (grant B8749.R01).
T.T. was supported by the DFG-CRC 990 EFForTS
and the BMBF project Limpopo Living Landscapes.
T.C.W. thanks M. Fortin-McCuaig for initial discussions
on the topic.
Author contributions
T.C.W. and L.W.T. conceived the work. All authors wrote
the manuscript.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Box 1 | Proposed certification criteria for adaptive trophy hunting, including a regional
and landscape focus
Local community development
Participatory approaches integrating the
local community
Ensuring benefits for local people (for
example, through economic benefits
such as fees for hunting, use of local
accommodation, carcass use)
Developing certification standards
in roundtable discussions with all
stakeholders (for example, local
community representatives, hunting
operators, conservation NGOs, land
owners, state and country representatives)
Contributing to reduce poaching in the
hunting area
Keeping game numbers on a socially
sustainable level (for example, preventing
damage from wildlife)
Legislation
Hunting respects local customary rights as
well as regional and national legislation
Legislation and administrative regulations
are enforced
Stocking land with only native game and
tolerating naturally occurring predators
Involvement of international bodies
(for example, CITES, hunting lobbies)
Hunting ethics
Selective hunting avoiding negative
selection pressure on populations (for
example, species-specific age limits,
preference for animals near or at post-
breeding age, no pressure on genetically
dominant and healthy animals, clear quotas)
Intolerance of unethical practices, such
as ‘canned hunting’ (that is, the practice
of breeding animals to be released
and hunted)
Individual accreditation of hunters
Intolerance of cruelty to animals
Regional and landscape focus
Regional focus on community
development and sustainable conservation
of wildlife populations
Integrated approach to protect ecosystem
services for local communities
NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION | VOL 1 | DECEMBER 2017 | 1791–1793 | www.nature.com/natecolevol
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Consistency is widely believed to be a virtue. Some of the hottest fires of hell, according to Dante's Inferno, are reserved for those who transgress: the hypocrites. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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International pressure to ban trophy hunting is increasing. However, we argue that trophy hunting can be an important conservation tool, provided it can be done in controlled manner to benefit biodiversity conservation and local people. Where political, and governance structures are adequate, trophy hunting can help address the ongoing loss of species.
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A major trend in global trade in forest, animal, and agricultural products is the implementation of importation policies and development of private sector standards and certification mechanisms to promote the sustainable management of natural resources in the countries of origin. In many cases, ensuring sustainable origins involves requirements that small-scale rural producers and fishers cannot meet. This article investigates the formalization of community-based floodplain fisheries in the Brazilian Amazon, including (a) the development of federal and state fisheries management policies, (b) the parallel development of community management systems, and (c) the role of these processes in the evolution of fisheries management in the Lower Amazon region. We argue here that market-oriented solutions, such as third-party certification, are insufficient. Government support for and collaboration with producers and industry are essential to creating conditions that enable fishing communities to sustainably manage their fisheries.
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This paper explores the externally-led vertical differentiation of third-party certification standards using the case of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). We analyze this process in two dimensions. First, fisheries employ strategies to capture further market value from fishing practices that go beyond their initial conditions for certification and seek additional recognition for these activities through co-labelling with, amongst others, international NGOs. Second, fisheries not yet able to meet the requirements of MSC standards are being enrolled in NGO and private sector sponsored Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs), providing an alternative route to global markets. In both cases the credibility and authority of the MSC is challenged by new coalitions of market actors opening up new strategies for capturing market value and/or improving the conditions of international market access. Through the lens of global value chains, the results offer new insights on how such standards not only influence trade and markets, but are also starting to change their internal governance in response to threats to their credibility by actors and modes of coordination in global value chains.
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In the face of fundamental land-use changes, the potential for trophy hunting to contribute to conservation is increasingly recognized. Trophy hunting can, for example, provide economic incentives to protect wildlife populations and their habitat, but empirical studies on these relationships are few and tend to focus on the effects of benefit-sharing schemes from an ex post perspective. We investigated the conditions under which trophy hunting could facilitate wildlife conservation in Ethiopia ex ante. We used a choice experiment approach to survey international trophy hunters' (n = 224) preferences for trips to Ethiopia, here operationalized as trade-offs between different attributes of a hunting package, as expressed through choices with an associated willingness to pay. Participants expressed strong preferences and, consequently, were willing to pay substantial premiums for hunting trips to areas with abundant nontarget wildlife where domestic livestock was absent and for arrangements that offered benefit sharing with local communities. For example, within the range of percentages considered in the survey, respondents were on average willing to pay an additional $3900 for every 10 percentage points of the revenue being given to local communities. By contrast, respondents were less supportive of hunting revenue being retained by governmental bodies: Willingness to pay decreased by $1900 for every 10 percentage points of the revenue given to government. Hunters' preferences for such attributes of hunting trips differed depending on the degree to which they declared an interest in Ethiopian culture, nature conservation, or believed Ethiopia to be politically unstable. Overall, respondents thus expressly valued the outcomes of nature conservation activities-the presence of wildlife in hunting areas-and they were willing to pay for them. Our findings highlight the usefulness of insights from choice modeling for the design of wildlife management and conservation policies and suggest that trophy hunting in Ethiopia could generate substantially more financial support for conservation and be more in line with conservation objectives than is currently the case. © 2015 Society for Conservation Biology.
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Available at: http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2014/ssi_2014.pdf The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 represents one small effort toward strengthening our understanding of how voluntary sustainability standards are developing over time, both in terms of the systems they deploy and the market impacts that they have. It is hoped that the SSI data and analysis, when read in conjunction with the growing body of field-level impact data, will allow supply chain decision-makers to strengthen their own strategic decision-making processes in ways that provide optimal sustainable development impact.
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The benefits of organic farming to biodiversity in agricultural landscapes continue to be hotly debated, emphasizing the importance of precisely quantifying the effect of organic vs. conventional farming. We conducted an updated hierarchical meta-analysis of studies that compared biodiversity under organic and conventional farming methods, measured as species richness. We calculated effect sizes for 184 observations garnered from 94 studies, and for each study, we obtained three standardized measures reflecting land-use intensity. We investigated the stability of effect sizes through time, publication bias due to the ‘file drawer’ problem, and consider whether the current literature is representative of global organic farming patterns. On average, organic farming increased species richness by about 30%. This result has been robust over the last 30 years of published studies and shows no sign of diminishing. Organic farming had a greater effect on biodiversity as the percentage of the landscape consisting of arable fields increased, that is, it is higher in intensively farmed regions. The average effect size and the response to agricultural intensification depend on taxonomic group, functional group and crop type. There is some evidence for publication bias in the literature; however, our results are robust to its impact. Current studies are heavily biased towards northern and western Europe and North America, while other regions with large areas of organic farming remain poorly investigated. Synthesis and applications. Our analysis affirms that organic farming has large positive effects on biodiversity compared with conventional farming, but that the effect size varies with the organism group and crop studied, and is greater in landscapes with higher land-use intensity. Decisions about where to site organic farms to maximize biodiversity will, however, depend on the costs as well as the potential benefits. Current studies have been heavily biased towards agricultural systems in the developed world. We recommend that future studies pay greater attention to other regions, in particular, areas with tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean climates, in which very few studies have been conducted.
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The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was created as a conservation tool – intended to provide “the best environmental choice in seafood” to consumers and to create positive incentives that would improve the status and management of fisheries. During its 15 years, the MSC, which has an annual budget of close to US$20 million, has attached its logo to more than 170 fisheries. These certifications have not occurred without protest. Despite high costs and difficult procedures, conservation organizations and other groups have filed and paid for 19 formal objections to MSC fisheries certifications. Only one objection has been upheld such that the fishery was not certified. Here, we collate and summarize these objections and the major concerns as they relate to the MSC’s three main principles: sustainability of the target fish stock, low impacts on the ecosystem, and effective, responsive management. An analysis of the formal objections indicates that the MSC’s principles for sustainable fishing are too lenient and discretionary, and allow for overly generous interpretation by third-party certifiers and adjudicators, which means that the MSC label may be misleading both consumers and conservation funders.
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Building trust through collaboration, institutional development, and social learning enhances efforts to foster ecosystem management and resolve multi-scale society-environment dilemmas. One emerging approach aimed at addressing these dilemmas is adaptive co-management. This method draws explicit attention to the learning ( experiential and experimental) and collaboration ( vertical and horizontal) functions necessary to improve our understanding of, and ability to respond to, complex social-ecological systems. Here, we identify and outline the core features of adaptive co-management, which include innovative institutional arrangements and incentives across spatiotemporal scales and levels, learning through complexity and change, monitoring and assessment of interventions, the role of power, and opportunities to link science with policy.
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Trophy hunting is widely used in Africa to generate funding for wildlife areas.In 2015, a global media frenzy resulted from the illegal killing of a radio-collared lion, “Cecil,” by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. Trophy hunting is con-tentious and much of the media discourse is emotional and polarized, focusingon animal welfare and debating the value of hunting as a conservation tool.We use the Cecil incident to urge a change in the focus of discussion and make a call for global action. We highlight the dual challenge to African governments posed by the need to fund vast wildlife estates and provide incentives for conservation by communities in the context of growing human populations and competing priorities. With or without trophy hunting, Africa’s wildlife areas require much more funding to prevent serious biodiversity loss. In light of this,we urge a shift away from perpetual debates over trophy hunting to the more pressing question of “How do we fund Africa’s wildlife areas adequately?” We urge the international community to greatly increase funding and technical support for Africa’s wildlife estate. Concurrently, we encourage African governments and hunters to take decisive steps to reform hunting industries and address challenges associated with that revenue generating option.
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Voluntary sustainability standards and certification offer a promising mechanism to mitigate the severe negative impacts of agricultural expansion and intensification on tropical biodiversity. From a conservation standpoint, certification of tropical agroforestry crops, especially coffee and cocoa, is of particular interest given the potentially high biodiversity value of agroforestry systems and the substantial market penetration of coffee and cocoa certification in recent years. Here, we review experience with coffee and cocoa certification, summarize evidence on conservation impacts, and explore future needs. While there is much evidence that environmental criteria behind certification support biodiversity conservation, it is often unclear whether certification in fact promotes conservation-friendly farm management. Additionally, the farm-scale focus of current certification models may limit delivery of biodiversity conservation benefits, as maintenance of biodiversity depends on processes at larger landscape scales. To address this scale mismatch, we suggest that investment and innovation in certification over the next decade prioritize landscape conservation outcomes. This may be achieved by (i) linking existing certification mechanisms with broader landscape and ecosystem service management approaches and/or (ii) expanding current certification models to consider the landscape itself as the certified unit.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.