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Frequently asked questions


Is FSC timber available for all applications?
Are FSC products more expensive?
How are FSC products inspected?
Can national governments opt for FSC in their tendering procedures?
If FSC becomes a monopoly, would that be bad?
If FSC timber is prescribed, is it always used?
Why are so many new timber species coming into the market?
Is†legality a guarantee of sustainability?
Is widespread deforestation still a problem?
Does FSC certify only tropical forests?


How wide is the range of FSC products?

Yes, timber is available for many applications and there is a vast choice of timber products, such as furniture, playground equipment, fencing and parquet flooring. Sometimes however it can be difficult to find large volumes for major applications at short notice. The appropriate FSCnational initiatives can always advise in such cases.

There has been enormous progress in recent years, especially in the paper and publishing industries. FSC paper is currently available for all applications. Many organizations, government bodies and companies now use FSC paper for all their copying, computer printouts and printed communications.

The increasing numbers of FSC certified forests mean that stocks will increase even further in the future.

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Are FSC products more expensive?

FSC products can sometimes be more expensive, but the price difference - where there is one†- is often only marginal. There are even examples of companies that have saved money by going over to FSC products, either because they do their work more efficiently or because they choose a lesser known timber species.

If price differences occur these are mainly caused by illegal and/or unsustainable logging. Higher prices for FSC timber typically occur in competition with forest operations where more trees than permitted or ecologically acceptable are cut down, taxes are evaded, indigenous people's rights are ignored, workers are underpaid and their safety is neglected.

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How are FSC products inspected?

The FSC system provides for the monitoring of the forest as well as the entire Chain of Custody by independent certifying bodies. Inspections are done in the forest, at the sawmill and in the processing plants. These inspection reports are compared with the results of both surprise and previously announced administrative audits.

This system of dual, independent monitoring means that it is not easy to evade the FSC system. If there are indications that something is wrong, somewhere, then FSCís open, independent complaints procedure can be used.

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Can national governments opt for FSC in their tendering procedures?

Yes,legal opinion indicates that governments are free to insist on FSC. Many muncipalities and other public as well as private organizations are already making this choice. Members of the World Trade Organization, such as national governments,†are required to use relevant international standards or the relevant parts of them. FSC is the only international forest certification standard that meets the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for setting Social and Environmental Standards.

In his book 'Logjam: deforestation and the crisis of global governance' (2006) renowned British scientist David Humphreys says that a choice for FSC contributes to more stringent standards of FSC and other systems (as FSC exerts an upward pull), whereas a choice for other systems will lead to lower standards.

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If FSC becomes a monopoly, would that be bad?

No. Of course itís important to have competing products. It means we can buy good quality products at a reasonable price. But FSC isnít a product, itís a quality mark. Competition is between the suppliers of FSC products, which is where competition should be. Competition between certifying systems (quality marks) is undesirable from the consumerís perspective†as it confuses the market.

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If FSC timber is prescribed, is it always used?

Sadly, no. Itís vital that the entire construction process is monitored. The number of FSC certified timber traders, woodworking businesses and contractors is growing rapidly and if you choose your partners carefully you will not be confronted with unpleasant surprises.

You can be certain that you are actually being supplied with or using FSC products by checking the product or the invoice for the FSC logo combined with the CoC code (e.g. SGS-COC-9999).

To avoid problems with major projects it is advisable to ask the advice of the appropriate FSC national initiatives in advance.

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Why are so many new timber species coming into the market?

Some well-known species are becoming scarce, which means that other species are gaining prominence. Whatís more, FSC certified logging is not allowed to change the species composition of the forest, so itís not just the well-known species that are harvested.

The lesser-known timber species are of excellent quality, though, and often have a fine appearance. The appropriate FSC national initiatives have information available on their applicability.

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Is legality a guarantee of sustainability?

No. Legality absolutely does not guarantee sustainability. In fact, research has shown that legal logging is often just as destructive as illegal logging. So claims of legality are of absolutely no value. Only FSC offers the certainty that a product comes from a well-managed forest.

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Is widespread deforestation still a problem?

Yes. And itís not just confined to the tropics. Many natural forests are being felled, even in temperate and boreal areas, to make room for tree stands with little biodiversity. According to a report†by the UN Food & Agricultural Organization, 13 million hectares of forest†is disappearing every year.

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Does FSC certify only tropical forests?

No. FSC certifies both tropical and non-tropical forests. This is important†and necessary as destructive logging is present in tropical, temperate and boreal areas.

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