Parsons Joinery, Sussex

An introduction to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Parsons Joinery, Sussex

What is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not for profit organisation that provides a certification programme for responsibly managed forests and a labelling system for timber and wood products that contain material from responsibly managed forests.

Timber, or products containing timber that originates from FSC certified responsibly managed forests are permitted to be labelled with the distinctive ‘tick tree’ logo.

In the UK, the Forest Stewardship Council brings together in excess of 100 stakeholders who are dedicated to the socially and ecologically responsible management of forests. Worldwide the council has more than 800 members, from more than 80 countries.

Why was it created?

The Council was established in  1993 with the intention of meeting the needs of businesses and consumers who wanted to buy products made from timber, or containing wood, from responsibly managed forests, but did not have a reliable way of identifying these products.

Why is responsible forest management  important?

Responsible forest management is important because it helps ensure that:-

  • the impact of forestry on forest ecosystems is minimised;
  • the effects of forestry on local flora, fauna and wildlife are as limited as possible;

Amongst the other benefits associated with responsible forestry are cleaner air and water, and mitigating the effects of climate change.

How does FSC regulation work?

The FSC accredit and certify forest management that complies with the organisation’s 10 Principles of Forest Stewardship. Only those organisation certified by the FSC to conduct audits of forests can award the use the FSC logo.

Certification depends upon demonstrable performance against a variety of environmental, social and economic criteria.

There are 3 different types of certification:-

  1. Forest Management certification – for the certification of forests;
  2. Chain of Custody certification – tracks the certified material through the manufacturing process from the forest to the retailers;
  3. Controlled Wood certification – certifies that non-FSC certified material in FSC products were not produced by  unethical methods such as illegal logging;

What are the different types of FSC labelling?

In order to make identification of the type of wood product easier, the FSC have devised a system of labelling that distinguishes between timber from well managed forests, and items made from mixed sources. Products are labelled as follows:-

100%  – the product only contains fibre from FSC certified forests;

FSC Mix –  the product contains timber or fibre from FSC forests reclaimed timber on fibre are timber fibre from other control sources;

FSC Recycled – the product contains timber or fibre from reclaimed material;

What does FSC accreditation involve?

Approved FSC certification bodies conduct an audit of each forest based on the FSC’s 10 principles. The outcome of each audit will be one of the following:-

full compliance –  FSC certificate awarded;

not fully compliant – non-compliance is noted. FSC certification withheld until full compliance achieved;

minor non-compliance – where minor non compliances have been found certification is issued subject to the resolution of the non-compliance issues identified, within timescale that has been agreed between the auditing body and those responsible for managing the forest;

In order to ensure continued compliance FSC certified companies and forests are audited at least annually. Where non-compliances are found a Corrective Action Requests (CARs) is issued, which require non-compliances to be remedied within an agreed timeframe. Failure to make the changes necessary  could lead to withdrawal of FSC certification.