The Forest Stewardship Council is a unique international organisation that promotes responsible forest management worldwide.
Founded in 1993, the Forest Stewardship CouncilTM (FSCTM) is a global membership-based NGO. FSC was established and exists for the purpose of promoting responsible forest management through eco-labelling.
FSC certification is widely regarded as the gold standard for responsible forest management. This is the key reason why FSC is the world's most successful forestry certification system with regard to brand recognition and market visibility.
The high ambitions of the FSC scheme, and the emphasis on inclusive and balanced decision-making are the main reasons why we are engaging strongly within the FSC system.
"The FSC General Assembly is a unique example of global democracy in action." - Peter Feilberg, NEPCon Executive Director
From forest to market
FSC develops and owns standards for certification of responsibly managed forests and supply chain companies selling certified products.
FSC's global Principles & Criteria (P&C) for responsible forest management forms the basis for FSC forest certification. This unified framework ensures that FSC certified forests are well-managed across the world's countries.
Chain of Custody certification helps ensure that FSC products are sold with legitimate claims and trademarks throughout the marketplace.
Organisations trading business-to-business must be certified in order to promote and sell certified products carrying any of the FSC marks. The FSC logo and labels create a strong link between well-managed forests and the end consumer, bringing market rewards to certified forest operations and companies.
Note: You can check the certification status of products that you are buying on the FSC Certificate Database at http://info.fsc.org
What makes FSC unique?
Strong NGO backup: FSC is the only international forest certification scheme that is supported by leading NGOs such as WWF and Greenpeace. This helps the system maintain its "street credibility" and ensure impact on the ground.
Stakeholder involvement and balancing of interests: FSC is organised in three chambers – the social, the economic and the environmental chamber. Strict rules ensure equal influence of the chambers at all levels of decision-making.
Truly global: All FSC certification takes place within a global framework of standards and requirements. There are FSC certified forests in around 80 countries worldwide.
Transparency: FSC is an international membership organisation with a governance structure based on participation, democracy, equity and transparency.
Roles and responsibilities of key actors
FSC is in charge of developing FSC's certification system. FSC handles global communications, global events, financial management, and overall brand management.
FSC's National Offices develop national FSC forest management standards in a multi-stakeholder process. They also issue FSC logo licenses to retailers. And they play a key role in raising awareness of the FSC label.
FSC Certification Bodies (CBs) conduct audits verifying certificate holders' conformance with the relevant FSC requirements. Based on this, CBs issue, maintain or withdraw certificates.
FSC Certificate Holders are FSC certified forest operations and companies that bring certified products to the marketplace. Certificate holders must follow the applicable FSC certification requirements and need to undergo annual FSC audits conducted by a CB.
Assurance Services International (ASI) accredits (approves) FSC certification bodies and conducts regular surveillance audits assuring the quality of the CBs' auditing.
FSC's members play a crucial role in developing the FSC system. Every three years, members convene at an FSC General Assembly to discuss and agree on vital issues.The assembly votings are key in deciding the future of the FSC system. Motions passed by the members form the basis for the evolution of FSC's policies and standards.
Watch a live FSC General Assembly voting:
Does FSC deliver its promise in practice?
Available evidence indicates that FSC is largely successful in promoting better forest management through eco-labeling.
Impact studies suggest that FSC certification does indeed leverage the potential for business to help transform the way the world’s forests are being utilised.
View impact studies
Market studies show that FSC certificate holders experience a wide range of benefits. The market for FSC products has grown tremendously in recent years.
View market studies
Note: Since the FSC system involves balanced decision-making, compromises on individual sustainability aspects are sometimes inevitable. Most of the discussions amongst FSC stakeholders focus on those compromises and where the line should be drawn.
Also, no system is perfect and neither is FSC. We frequently take part in discussions on how to improve the FSC system. Key issues that are frequently debated include system credibility, impact on the ground and access to certification for smaller organisations.
Find out more about FSC at www.fsc.org