What is FSC
The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible forest management throughout the world.
FSC is unique because of its balance in decision-making between economic, ecological or societal interests. All three sectors have the same influence on the decisions of the General Assembly that decides FSC policy and lays down the criteria.
Everybody who has an interest in responsible forest management can be an FSC member and influence the organization’s development. The current membership includes forest owners, timber traders, trades unions, interest groups and representatives of local people.
Applicable throughout the world
FSC has developed 10 principles and criteria for the certification of well-managed forests. They can be implemented all over the world and are valid for both tropical and temperate forests. They are interpreted according to local conditions.
A product bearing the FSC seal originates from a well-managed forest. To ensure that the forest management meets the FSC principles and criteria, independent certifying bodies inspect the forests. They not only inspect the management plans, but also perform onsite audits, ensuring that FSC's principles and criteria are being complied with.
To ensure that a product originates from an FSC forest, the entire Chain of Custody (CoC) is monitored, from forest to end product. Every firm in the chain is inspected to ensure that the FSC certified timber is not being exchanged for other, non-certified sources. This ensures the socially minded consumer that a purchase of FSC certified timber is indeed coming from a responsibly managed forest. The input and output flows of FSC timber must also match.
FSC products can be recognized either by the FSC logo combined with the CoC code (assurance that the Chain of Custody has been monitored), or the invoice for the product supplied states that the product is FSC certified. In the latter case, the (certified) company’s CoC code must also be mentioned.
If the FSC-logo (or the letters FSC) and/or the CoC code are not present, or if the invoice does not correctly mention FSC, then it is not an FSC product.
Verbal communications from, for example, suppliers or contractors, that the product is FSC certified are therefore worthless in the absence of physical evidence. Even a copy of an FSC certificate is not sufficient.
Summaries of the certification reports are available to the public and can be freely consulted on the independent certification bodies website.
Halfway January 2009, 945 forests fulfilled the FSC principles and criteria, representing an area of more than 105 million hectares of well-managed forest. Throughout the world, 12,009 companies have received Chain of Custody certification. The expectation is that this number will continue to grow, meaning that the supply of FSC timber and FSC products will also continue to grow.
FSC is also a successful marketing instrument with an excellent brand image, widespread support and a significant market share.