Forest Stewardship Council

Today environmentally conscious architects, builders and consumers are looking for ways to incorporate sustainable products into their construction Projects'. Governments and private institutions face requirements to specify products that endorse international social as well as environmental standards as a basis for their procurement standards. When the sustainable material of choice is wood or a wood by product there are several accreditation systems in place to gauge the level of responsibility used to grow, manage and harvest wood products. By far the most well known criteria for gauging environmentally responsible wood products are the principles and criteria established by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Since 1992 the FSC has been working the perfect standards that could be
used globally to define responsible wood products. The United States
Green Building Council (USGBC) has developed the Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) Program. LEED creates a rating system
to gauge appropriate sustainable materials used in buildings. In our Fall &
Winter Builders Guide we asked why only FSC sanctioned wood products
were the only products acceptable to gain points in the LEED rating system.
It seems evident that specifying FSC products is currently the most
effective way to ensure that wood and wood products are legally grown and
harvested in a socially environmentally responsible fashion. More than any
competing accreditation system FSC also possesses  widespread support
from global environmental groups. A t times it may seem that employing
FSC criteria of global basis can be a daunting task to satisfy all environmental
concerns. Even with its well-developed set of standards FSC can come
under criticism from a variety of environmental organizations. FSC principles
may be too stringent for some and too lenient for others.

FSC's Principles and Criteria apply to all tropical, temperate and boreal
forests. To gain forest certification requires assessment of the landowner’s
practices by interdisciplinary experts. The FSC assessment takes into
account the ecological, economic and social aspects of the forest under evaluation. A FSC "well-managed" forest maintains the characteristics of a
natural forest even after a timber harvest. If the plan for forest management
meets FSC certification standards, the harvested wood can be certified and
products derived from forest operations can carry the FSC label.

The following ten principles are applicable to all FSC certified forests:

  •  Compliance with laws and FSC principles - Forest management shall

Respect all applicable 1aws, international treaties and agreements and comply
with all FSC Principles and Criteria.

  • Tenure and use rights and responsibilities - Long-term tenure and

use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented
and legally established.

  •  Indigenous peoples' rights -The legal and customary rights of indigenous

peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be
recognized and respected.

  •  Community relations and worker's rights - Forest management operations

shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well being of forest
workers and local communities.

  •  Benefits from the forest - Forest management operations shall encourage the

efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability.

  •  Environmental impact - Forest management shall conserve biological

diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and
fragile ecosystems and landscapes.

  • Management plan - Long-term objectives are appropriate to the scale

and intensity of the operations - shall be written, implemented, and kept
up to date.

  • Monitoring and assessment- Monitoring shall assess the condition of

the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities
and their social and environmental impacts.

  •  Maintenance of high conservation value forests - Management activities

in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes
which define such forests.

  • Plantations - Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance

with Principles and criteria 1-9. While plantations can provide an array of
social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's
needs for forest products, they should complement the management of
and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.