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The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

The FSC is a non–government and non–profit organization that encourages responsible supervision of forests worldwide. By offering certifications and trademark assurance for products that come from environmentally and socially sound resources, FSC has helped to increase responsible forest practices on a global level.

Why should I get FSC certified?

The FSC label helps distinguish ecologically responsible hardwood from that which isn't so eco–friendly. Products that are certified by the FSC comply with the highest standards on both an environmental and social level. You can target the growing niche of eco–conscious consumers by getting certified with FSC today.

FSC Certifications

FSC offers a few different types of certifications: Forest Management certification, certification for small companies, Chain of Custody certification and Controlled Wood certification. The FSC does not issue these certifications itself; they are distributed by independent organizations commonly referred to as the "certification bodies." The certification bodies are responsible for analyzing forest operations against the standards set by the FSC and giving out certifications accordingly.

FSC certificates stay valid for up to 5 years. The FSC accredited certification body that approved the certification will carry out annual surveillance audits to ensure that the business remains compliant during that 5–year period.

How to Get FSC Certified

To get started, you must first contact an FSC accredited certification body. They will ask questions about your operation and determine how much time will be needed for assessment, as well as how much it will cost to get certified. The certification body will then conduct an audit and decide if your company qualifies for certification. If the audit reveals that your operation is not entirely compliant with FSC regulations, then you are responsible for making the changes suggested in the report. Once these changes have been implemented, you are ready for a second FSC audit.

FSC Principles and Criteria

Altogether there are 10 principles and 56 criteria for FSC forest standards. These principles ensure that the forest meets economic, ecological and cultural needs of present and future generations.

Some Examples of FSC Standards:

  • Exclusion of use of unsafe chemicals
  • Respect of indigenous people and human rights
  • Prohibit conversion of forests
  • Supervision of regions that require special protection (i.e. areas that contain endangered plants or species)

Who Funds the FSC?

The FSC is funded by charitable foundations, businesses, government donors and accreditation services fees. At present they are receiving more funds from donations than certification fees, but hope to reverse this over the next few years.

Who Determines FSC Standards?

The standards set by the FSC are set forth by FSC members. Anyone who is interested in preserving the world's forests can become a member of the FSC Assembly. The Assembly meets every 3 years and is the decision–making body of the organization. The Assembly is responsible for making suggestions while the FSC Board of Directors has the final say over the rules that will be implemented.

The Creation of FSC

Global concerns over irresponsible forest practices in the 1980s led to governmental attempts to reduce forest destruction. Unfortunately they failed in improving forest management. After years of the accelerated conversion of forests to more economical land, environmental organizations and social groups worldwide came together to found the FSC.