Forest Stewardship Council

Infobox Non-profit
Non-profit_name = Forest Stewardship Council
founded_date = 1993
founder =
location = Bonn, Germany
origins =
key_people = Greenpeace, FERN, World Wide Fund for Nature
area_served = Global
focus = Sustainable forestry
method = Certification
revenue =
endowment =
num_employees =
owner =
Non-profit_slogan =
homepage =

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products. This offers customers around the world the ability to choose products from socially and environmentally responsible forestry.

Deforestation issues

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, half of the world’s forests have already been altered, degraded, destroyed or converted into other land uses. [ [|UN FAO facts and figures] ] Much of the remaining forests today suffer from illegal exploitation and otherwise poor management. FSC was established as a response to these concerns over global deforestation.

FSC is the first worldwide certification system established for forests and forest products. This voluntary market driven mechanism can be regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote better forest management. [ [ WWF - Responsible forestry: Certification ] ] [ [|The effects of FSC Certification in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and the UK. WWF (2005)] ]

Forest management according to FSC’s internationally recognized standards delivers environmental services to local and global communities, including clean air and water, and contributes to mitigating impacts of climate change. FSC directly or indirectly addresses issues such as illegal logging, deforestation and global warming and has positive impacts on economic development, environmental conservation, poverty alleviation and social and political empowerment. [ [|The effects of FSC Certification in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and the UK. WWF (2005)] ] Experiences with voluntary standards initiatives and related multi-stakeholder dialogues. B. Lang. GTZ (2006) [] ]

FSC is an international association of members. It is a platform for forest owners, timber industries, social groups and environmental organizations to come together to find solutions to improve forest management practices. FSC works to ensure the permanent existence of forest areas through responsible forest management and conservation.

FSC, as a market driven mechanism, empowers consumers to express their demand in the market for responsible forestry by offering an independent, global and credible label for forest products. [|Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest: The chain of destruction from logging companies to consumers. Greenpeace (2007)] ] According to Greenpeace, consumers can choose forest products with the confidence that they are not contributing to the destruction of the world’s forests. Moreover, the idea of the FSC logo is to guarantee that the product comes from responsible sources - environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. The FSC label can be found on a wide range of timber and non-timber products from paper and furniture to medicine and jewelry.FSC on-line database:]

Vision and mission

FSC’s vision is where "“the world’s forests are managed to meet the social, ecological and economic rights and needs of the present generation without compromising those of future generations.“"FSC Global Strategy (2007):]

FSC’s mission is to “"promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests."”

Facts and figures

In December 2007, some 93 million hectares – the equivalent of roughly 10% of the world’s production forests Fact|date=December 2007 - are certified to FSC’s Principles and Criteria in 78 countries. [ FSC | What's New | FSC Certificates ] ] There is around 7500 FSC Chain of Custody certificates are active in 84 countries. Companies committing to FSC including home-improvement or DIY companies, publishers, retailers amongst many others. The FSC website has statistics on regional distributions, ownership and forest type and numbers of FSC certificates representing all valid forest management and chain of custody certificates. Only continuous compliance can assure that certificate holders can keep their certificates.

Global and local

FSC is a global action network. While the FSC International Center is based in Bonn, Germany, it has a decentralized network of National Initiatives [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Contact FSC ] ] and Regional Offices [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Contact FSC ] ] that develop standards and promote FSC certification in many countries around the world. National Initiatives are the foundation of the FSC network making FSC more accessible and locally appropriate. As of December 2007, FSC is represented in 46 countries around the world with national offices in:

* AFRICA: Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Cote D'Ivoire; Democratic Republic of Congo; Ethiopia; Gabon; Ghana; Mozambique; South Africa; and Zambia.

* ASIA & OCEANIA: [ Australia] ; China; [ Japan] ; Papua New Guinea; [ Russia] ; and Vietnam.

* EUROPE: Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; [ Czech Republic] ; [ Denmark] ; Estonia; [ Finland] ; [ France] , [ Germany] ; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; [ Netherlands] ; [ Poland] ; Portugal; Romania; [ Slovakia] ; [ Spain] ; [ Sweden] ; [ Switzerland] ; Ukraine; and [ UK] .

* THE AMERICAS: Bolivia; [ Brazil] ; [ FSC Canada] ; [ Chile] ; [ Colombia] ; Ecuador; Mexico; Peru; and [ USA] .

How are FSC’s aims put into practice?

FSC promotes socially and environmentally responsible forest management world wide through standard setting, accreditation of certifiers and trademark assurance.

Together these activities ensure that the final product bearing the FSC logo can be traced through the production process and is a guarantee to customers that the product comes from responsible sources.

FSC standard development

FSC has 10 Principles and associated Criteria that form the basis for all FSC forest management standards. FSC International sets the framework for developing and maintaining international, national and sub-national standards. This shall ensure that the process for developing FSC policies also to and standards are:

* Transparent: The process for developing policies and standards is clear and accessible. [|Footprints in the forest - Current practice and future challenges in forest certification. S. Ozinga, L. Krul. FERN (2004)] ]
* Independent: Standards are developed in a way which balances the interests of all stakeholders - social, environmental and economic - ensuring that no one interest dominates.
* Participatory : FSC strives to involve all interested people and groups in the development of FSC policies and standards.

Based on the FSC Principles and Criteria, FSC has developed more specific standards for national or regional contexts, specific forest types and for specific other forest products such as non-timber forest products (Brazil nuts, bamboo), but also other forest benefits, such as recreation and conservation. In countries where these standards are not yet developed, certification bodies can adapt their generic standards - approved by FSC - to local conditions. These standards are called ‘locally-adapted generic standards’. FSC is in the process of creating its own generic standards to increase consistency and robustness of the FSC system globally.

FSC forest certification requirement

With its 10 Principles and 56 associated Criteria, [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Policy & Standards ] ] FSC offers a comprehensive set of universally applicable requirements for responsible forest management. The aim is to ensure that forest resources are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.

The FSC Principles and Criterias apply to all tropical, temperate and boreal forests and many to plantations and partially replanted forests. Though mainly designed for forest management for timber products, they are also largely relevant for non-timber products (e.g. Brazil nuts) and other environmental services such as clean water and air and carbon sequestration. The FSC Principles are a complete package and their sequence does not represent an ordering of priority.

The FSC logo is a branded trust mark that identifies responsible forest management in the market place. It empowers consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions on forest products.

All forest products with the FSC label carry a guarantee to consumers that the product comes from responsible sources. An FSC certified product can only carry the FSC logo if the production chain can be fully and reliably traced from the forest through each and every processing stage all the way to the shelf. There are three FSC labels: FSC pure, FSC mixed sources and FSC recycled.

To check whether an FSC label is valid, the certificate number on the label can be verified by reviewing the FSC certificates list [ [ FSC | What's New | FSC Certificates ] ] or the FSC on-line certificate database.

FSC Trademark

FSC owns three trademarks:
2. The initials "FSC", and
3. The "checkmark-and-tree" logo.

Any users of these trademarks must have a license and comply with guidelines and regulations set by FSC.


The expenses for a successful certification of forest management must be divided into [Certification Information Service: Source Book. European Forest Institute. Sektion 1, p.25]
* the costs for an enhancement of sustainability
* the costs for audits (these are the controls by third parties)
* secondary costs (e.g. losses of stumpage revenues)

According to an evaluation by the Savcor company [] Savcor power point presentation, see slide no. 12. Retrieved 2008-01-25] (a large service provider in forestry), the costs for direct audits in Nordic countries can effectively become marginal. In Nordic countries competing PEFC-certification appears to have slightly slower costs [] Savcor, comparing costs of FCS and PEFC. Retrieved 2008-01-25] . They are decreasing with increasing audited territory due to effects of economy of scale, and can differ between 2,50 € and 0,25 € per ha. [ [] FSC Germany FAQ (in German), retrieved 2008-01-25]

On the other hand, the preparation of the first or the pre-audit require a considerable amount of resources. A forest management plan must be compiled, which requires a lot of data on tree species and other plants, age distribution, annual increment and many more. While this information is often easily available in European countries, where forests have been managed for many decades, such taxations have never taken place in the large forests of developing countries.

All together, the Savcor company estimated the effective costs for FSC certification in Nordic countries between 2.6 and 19.1 €/ha.


Concerns and large-scale public debates about the state of world’s forests escalated globally in the 1980’s and led to a gridlock between different stakeholders fighting about environmental, social and economic interests. To overcome global deforestation and forest degradation, various attempts had been tried, including the International Tropical Timber Agreement, CITES and the Global Environment Facility. However, apart from small local successes, these approaches turned out to be unsuitable for fighting deforestation. Furthermore, campaigns of environmental NGOs aimed at the blockade of international tropical timber trade. Although these actions contributed to a considerable increase of public perception regarding deforestation, mainly in tropical rainforests, a lacking cross-sectoral approach was obvious and convinced environmental organizations to explore more pro-active solutions.Certification Information Service: Source Book. European Forest Institute. Section 1, p.1:4] Thus, in 1990, a group of timber users, traders, social groups and environmental organizations came together in California, USA, unified by the need for an honest and credible system for identifying well-managed forests as acceptable sources of forest products. [ [] FSC history, as described on retrieved 2007-01-23] The need for global consensus on what is meant by ‘good forest management’ prompted an intensive consultation process with representatives from tropical and temperate regions.

The clear need for an effective mechanism to improve forest conservation worldwide was further emphasized in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. With world leaders’ signatures on the resolutions taken at the Rio conference, expectations were growing that the international community would join forces to stop the destruction of our basic livelihoods and embrace sustainable development. Concerning forests, the world summit could not agree on legally binding commitments, although environmental NGOs along with some governmental organizations pushed for it. For that reason, certification of forest management became one of the instruments, favored by the environmental NGOs to further promote sustainable forest management.

In 1993, the consultation process initiated in 1990 by some representatives of the timber industry, social groups and environmental organizations ended, confirming support for the development of a worldwide certification and accreditation system that would cover all forest types: the creation of the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC. To this day, FSC provides a platform for these different interest groups to communicate in a dynamic environment where each and every person has a voice and an equal say.

Despite Rio’s aims, nature’s treasures continued to perish and this still holds true today. According to FAO statistics, 13 million hectares of natural forests are destroyed each year. [ [Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005. FAO Forestry Paper 147. ISBN 92-5-105481-9. p. 19.] Initiatives from governments and international organization did not manage to end the plundering. The need to substantially improve forest management practices persists. It is important to understand that deforestation is not only driven by non-sustainable methods of forest management, but also by urban development, illegal logging, land conversion, forest fires, and climate change.


FSC is a membership-based organization with a governance structure [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Governance ] ] based on participation, democracy, equity and transparency.

The FSC system relies on stakeholder consultation and consensus based processes. Power is equally divided between social, environmental and economic interests as well as the global north and south. This ensures that no one interest group can dominate. This way of working has proven to be effective and independent of government structures or strong vested interestsFact|date=January 2008.

FSC has three levels of decision making bodies: The General Assembly, [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Governance ] ] the Board of Directors [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Governance ] ] and the Executive Director. [ [ FSC | What Is FSC? | Governance ] ]

The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body in FSC and is made up of the three membership chambers, each of which are equally represented by the global north and south: environmental, social and economic. The chamber structure maintains the balance of voting power between different interests without having to limit the number of members.

Every three years, all members representing different interests from all over the world are unified by their commitment to the FSC's mission. Each General Assembly represents an opportunity for everybody to share, learn, establish new alliances and exchange and explore business opportunities to create a better future of the forests.

The FSC Board of Directors equally represents the social, environmental and economic interests of FSC members for both the global North and South. These nine individuals – members and advocates of FSC - are elected by members from their respective chamber.

The Executive Director, accountable to the FSC Board of Directors, runs FSC on a day to day basis with the support of a multi-cultural professional team.

Support and Critisism

Stakeholder support

A wide range of organizations, companies and individuals around the world representing social, environmental and economic interests, endorse FSC and show their active commitment.

FSC is the only international forest certification scheme supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, and FERN. Numerous governments worldwide have strengthened market-based incentives for FSC certification by providing tax benefits to certified companies, referencing FSC products as requirements in their procurement policies [ [|Market Effects of Public Procurement Policies for Wood and Paper Products in the UNECE Region. A study by the Team of Specialists on Forest Products Markets and Marketing for the UNECE and FAO Policy Forum on “Public procurement policies for wood and paper products and their impacts on sustainable forest management and timber markets” (Oct 2006)] ] [ [|Purchasing Tropical Timber: Environmental Guidelines. Ministry of the Environment: Danish Forest and Nature Agency, 2003] ] [ [|Sustainable procurement in the European Union: Proposals and Recommendations to the European Commission and the European Parliament. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (EJJC), 2007] ] [ [|Public Procurement Policies for Forest Products and Their Impacts Draft Discussion Paper. Markku Simula. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. August 2006] ] [ [|Costs and Benefits of Green Public Procurement in Europe. Institute for Applied Ecology and Local Governments for Sustainability, 2006] ] and supporting projects linked to FSC through their international development agencies. Companies [ Who's Choosing FSC ] ] value FSC as a tool to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, gain access to new markets and maintain access to existing ones. According to FSC itself, and pro-FSC organisation "Credible Forest", FSC is also the international system preferred by financial institutions for risk management related to forest management activities.

In their support for FSC, some European companies launched a website, WhyFSC, [ [ WhyFSC Genuine responsible forest management FSC ] ] providing information and testimonials on FSC, featuring documents, reports and independent research by scientists, NGO’s, legal authorities and governments.

International recognition

The inclusiveness and transparency of the FSC system relies on stakeholder consultation and consensus based processes. FSC is the forest management certification system:

* where social, environmental and industry interests carry the same weight;
* that prohibits the conversion of forests and other natural habitat;
* respects the rights of indigenous peoples Fact|date=September 2008;
* that has a forest management standard that is no barrier to trade Fact|date=September 2008;
* that prohibits the use of highly hazardous pesticides;
* that prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified trees (GMOs);
* with an integrated accreditation program that systematically controls its certification bodies;
*requires regular yearly controls of each forest management operation certified to its standards; and
* controls the non-certified timber content in FSC certified products.

FSC is a member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance, [ [ ISEAL - International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance - ISEAL Alliance Home Page ] ] an association of leading voluntary international standard setting and certification organizations focused on social and environmental issues. Since 2006, FSC complies with ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental standards, [ [ ISEAL - International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance - Code of Good Practice ] ] assuring the highest standards for credible behavior in ethical trade. To comply with the code, FSC demonstrates a credible standards development processes and reassurance that the majority of stakeholders will support the resulting standards.


The Rainforest Foundation has suggested that the FSC does not properly control the accredited auditors (or certifiers), after investigating a number of certified forests in six countries. The FSC reviewed the certificates under question, and showed that some of the initial investigations were justified, so removed the license to certify from the Thai company Forest Industry Organisation. [ [ Reform of the Forest Stewardship Council ] ]

The EcoEarth/Rainforest Portal has publicly questioned the FSC-endorsed policy of old-growth forest logging. [ [ Rainforest Protection Issues: ALERT: Stop the Forest Liars: "Certified" Old-Growth Rainforest Logging Does NOT Protect Biodiversity, Ecosystems or Climate ] ] They assert that research does not support the idea that this type of logging is carbon positive or sustainable and supplies research, though these views are generally not upheld by the scientific community. [Reduced-Impact Logging as a Carbon-Offset Method. Francis E. Putz, Michelle A. Pinard. Conservation Biology, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 755-757]

Competing certification schemes

There are a number of certification schemes for forest management. The main competing forest certification system is the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes), established by a number of stakeholders, including associations of the forest industry, pulp-and-paper production and forest owners in response to the creation and increasing popularity of FSC. The PEFC is currently not supported by any environmental NGOs, and has been criticized for lack of transparency, lower environmental standards, and lack of unit level certification or third party authentication. [ WWF - New Insights on Credible Certification in Europe ] ]

Geographer Jared Diamond, in his 2005 book Collapse, sees the establishment of rival certification schemes with weaker Fact|date=September 2008 environmental standards as a confirmation of the FSC's effectiveness: "The effectiveness of the Forest Stewardship Council has received the ultimate compliment from logging companies opposed to it: they have set up their own competing certification organizations with weaker standards. These include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in the U.S., set up by the American Forest and Paper Association; the Canadian Standards Association; and the Pan-European Forest Council."cite book |last=Diamond |first=Jared |authorlink=Jared Diamond |title= |year=2005 |publisher=Viking |location=New York |isbn=0-670-03337-5 |pages=pp. 478-479 ] He then questions the credibility of these organizations: "All of these 'knockoffs' differ from the FSC in that they do not require independent third-party certification, but they permit companies to certify themselves (I'm not joking)."

While the FSC scheme offers customers confidence about the chain of supply, processes and imply a business with ethics, some critics say they share a linked set of weaknesses, notably that they are not suited for small businesses, that they are anti-competitive, and in a wider view counter-ecological.

* Only large businesses with rigid structures can afford the process of assessment and maintenance of the schemes. Small business could well afford to act with responsible attitude to ethical issues – having fewer investors and being less profit driven, than larger on where borrowing, level of investment and shareholders drive the business to work to harsher realities.
* Anti competitive as if favors larger firms over smaller ones
* Counter-ecological as it promotes a model of a few massive suppliers, by making the smaller companies unable to compete as they are not able to tick the boxes that assessed schemes provide. For example: Does your company comply with ISOxxxx and FSC?
* With fewer local companies goods have to travel further, and the resources and skills of local communities degrade.

The FSC system is, designed to promote responsible forest management in all sizes, scales and types of forests around the world. To make FSC more accessible to small and medium sized businesses, FSC established the SLIMF initiative and Group certification.

FSC's Small and Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMF) initiative, adapts the FSC system to the realities and needs of small and low intensity forest operations in accessing by offering special streamlined procedures. [ [ FSC International - SLIMF ] ] Group certification allows small forest owners to join together and share certification costs. In December 2007 more than one in seven FSC certificates were community owned forests. [ [ FSC | What's New | FSC Certificates ] ] Group certification has been very successful in Switzerland Fact|date=September 2008. In Brazil, the largest certified community forest is FSC certified.


* [ Footprints in the Forests] : A FERN's assessment of 8 forest certification schemes (2004)
* [ The effects of FSC Certification in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and the UK. WWF (2005)]
* [ Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest: The chain of destruction from logging companies to consumers. Greenpeace (2007)]
* [ Experiences with voluntary standards initiatives and related multi-stakeholder dialogues. B. Lang. GTZ (2006)]
* [ Tage Klingberg, University of Gävle] , A European view of forest certification issues for consideration. Why the organization of family forest owners in Europe turned away from FSC.
* [ Newsletter published by a logging industry association, the NAFI]
* [ Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman (a Norwegian consumer watchdog group)]


ee also

*Certified wood
*Marine Stewardship Council

External links

Official FSC sites

International Center
* [ FSC International]
* [ FSC Controlled Wood Resource Center]
* [ FSC online worldwide product search] – database of FSC certified materials, products and companies around the world

Asia & Oceania:
* [ FSC Australia]
* [ FSC Japan]
* [ FSC Russia]
* [ FSC China]

* [ FSC Czech Republic]
* [ FSC Denmark]
* [ FSC Finland]
* [ FSC France]
* [ FSC Germany]
* [ FSC Italy]
* [ FSC Netherlands]
* [ FSC Poland]
* [ FSC Slovakia]
* [ FSC Spain]
* [ FSC Sweden]
* [ FSC Switzerland]
* [ FSC UK]
* [ FSC online paper search Europe] – database of FSC certified paper products and companies in Europe
* [ FSC online product search UK] - database of FSC certified products and companies in the UK
* [ FSC Broker Project] – linking FSC certified producers in Central and Eastern Europe to Western European markets

The Americas:
* [ FSC Bolivia]
* [ FSC Brazil]
* [ FSC Canada]
* [ FSC Chile]
* [ FSC Colombia]
* [ FSC United States]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Forest Stewardship Council — Typ gemeinnützige Organisation Gründung Oktober 1993 Sitz …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Forest Stewardship Council — Pour les articles homonymes, voir FSC. Logo de la certification Forest Stewardship Council Le Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) est un écolabel, qui assure que la production de bois ou d un produit à base de bois a re …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Marine Stewardship Council — Type Non profit organization Industry Sustainable seafood ecolabel programme Founded …   Wikipedia

  • Forest Trust — The Forest Trust (anciennement Tropical Forest Trust) ou TFT est une organisation créée au Royaume Uni dont le but est d’accompagner les entreprises et les communautés vers la mise sur le marché de produits responsables. TFT travaille sur le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Forest product — A forest product is any material derived from a forest for commercial use, such as lumber, paper, or forage for livestock. Wood, by far the dominant commercial forest product, is used for many industrial purposes, such as the finished structural… …   Wikipedia

  • Sustainable forest management — carried out by Complejo Panguipulli has contributed to the preservation of the forested landscape around Neltume, a sawmill town in Chile Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable… …   Wikipedia

  • Tropical Forest Trust — The Tropical Forest Trust (TFT) is a UK registered not for profit company focused on making the trade of timber from sustainable forest management standard practice. TFT works with partners at all stages of the supply chain – from forest… …   Wikipedia

  • Tropical Forest Trust — Le Tropical Forest Trust (en anglais, organisme pour la forêt tropicale) ou TFT est une organisation créée au Royaume Uni dont le but est d’établir des règles pour une fourniture responsable de bois tropicaux. Ces règles assurent aux clients… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes — Infobox Non profit Non profit name = Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes Non profit founded date = 1999 founder = location = Geneva, Switzerland origins = key people = area served = Global focus = Forest conservation,… …   Wikipedia

  • Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification — Programme de Reconnaissance des Certifications Forestières Logo du PEFC. Le Programme de Reconnaissance des Certifications Forestières ou PEFC (« Pan European Forest Certification » devenu « Programme for the Endorsement of Forest… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.