FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL
As of August 2020, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has certified 35.2 million acres of forest area in the United States. One of our positive impact partners, The Good Pencil Company, has contributed to this incredible amount of land by becoming FSC certified.
What is it?
Founded in 1993, the Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, membership-led, non-profit organization that aims to protect forests for future generations and sets standards under which forests and companies are certified. This organization is founded on the pillars that the organization’s certification standards are environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable. The way the FSC is structured is truly unique in that all members are able to have a direct impact on certification standards. When individuals or companies apply to become a member, they apply to join one of the three chambers, environmental, social or economic, and are further divided into northern and southern sub-chambers. Each chamber holds an equal amount of weight during the voting process, as well as, the North and South sub-chambers to maintain equality in the decision-making process. Companies who become certified by the FSC do not automatically become members, but they are encouraged to apply to become members to make sure their voices are represented in decisions.
The FSC Principles and Criteria provide a foundation for all forest management standards around the world. The certifications the FSC offers encapsulates these principles and criteria to ensure that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environment, social and economic benefits. The FSC accredits two types of certifications: Forest Management and Chain of Custody. For both types of certification, it is required for a third-party approved certifier to verify that all FSC-certified forests conform to the requirements contained within an FSC forest management standard. This third-party verification helps maintain the FSC system’s integrity. For the Forest Management certification, the company must either contact an FSC-accredited Certification Body or contact a Group Manager to join a Forest Management Group Certificate depending on their eligibility. The Chain of Custody certification offers similar choices for interested companies. To be certified, any company that is taking ownership of a product through the entire process up to the end user must be FSC certified to be able to pass the FSC claim along to the next company. Another option is for companies that manufacture or trade in FSC certified products are able to contact an FSC-accredited Certification Body or apply for a Chain of Custody Group Certification if their gross annual sales of wood products are less than $5 million. In addition to these types of FSC certification, the FSC also licenses retailers and other end users to promote FSC labeled products without holding an FSC certification.
Why does matter?
From a business standpoint, the FSC certification matters because it demonstrates the company’s commitment to responsible forest management to consumers and has the potential to give these companies access to new markets they previously would not have had access to.
As a consumer, looking at FSC certified companies often means that those companies are not directly or indirectly involved in illegal deforestation, cutting and sales of illegal wood or related products, the violation of tradition and human rights in forestal operations, the destruction of conservation values, and the significant transformation of forests into plantations or other non-forestal uses.
It has been proven that FSC certified areas have so far reduced deforestation by 5 percent. There has also been evidence that shows FSC areas reduce air pollution and respiratory infections, as well as, dependence on firewood. This type of certification helps prevent erosion and people-related aspects of forestry. These aspects include starting conversations with local communities around harvesting techniques and the FSC certification itself.
The FSC system allows businesses and consumers to identify, purchase and use wood, paper and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources. This in turn benefits the environment, surrounding communities, and the global economy.