Sustainable Standards: Unpacking FSC Certification

Mountain Road Twists Through Dark Timber Pine Trees. Road in healthy green lush pine forest. Converted from 14-bit RAW file. ProPhoto RGB color space.

Setting standards to safeguard the world’s forests for future generations, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization that that promotes responsibly managed forestry through a voluntary certification system. Ensuring that an environmental awareness is embedded into the products that fall under their evaluation, an FSC certification indicates that the necessary requirements were met by both the harvested wood used in the product and the manufacturer that made it. Thus, all products prized with an FSC logo can be traced back to a sustainably managed forest.

FSC-certified operations are obligated to observe a set of ten principles, which include: complying with all laws and regulations; sustaining employment conditions; upholding Indigenous Peoples’ rights of ownership; contributing to local community relations; efficiently managing the economic, environmental, and social management of forests; diminishing negative environmental impacts; implementing a realistic and adaptable management plan; and managing all activities.

The FSC offers two certifications, including the Forest Management Certification—ensuring that wood products are in complete compliance with FSC’s social, economic, and environmental standards—and the Chain-of-Custody Certification, which guarantees that the entire supply chain, from processing to manufacturing and distribution, meets FSC standards. In order to attain certification, an independent, third-party is tapped to inspect the forest where the wood was harvested, appraise the operation by assessing its forest management and chain of custody operations, and ultimately determine its compliancy with institutional standards.

Operating in more than 80 countries, the FSC’s criteria were conceived to provide a foundation for all forest management standards globally, wherever forests are present. More than 380 million acres of forest are currently certified under FSC’s system, with over 150 million acres abounding across the United States and Canada. The FSC designation accounts for a triple-bottom-line approach—of people, planet, and profit—with principles put in place to balance its benefits to the environment, society, and the economy.

FSC Certification
Photography Courtesy of Kahrs Group


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