The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) founded in 1992, by environmentalists, community leaders and businesses, following the failure of the Rio Earth Summit to produce an international agreement to stop deforestation. The first FSC general assembly gathered in 1993 in Toronto with a mission to create a set of voluntary, market-based tools to improve responsible forestry practices worldwide. At that time the FSC was mainly an alternative to boycotting forest products, a tactic proved to be ineffective as it devalued forest lands. The FSC currently operates in 80 countries, wherever forests are located.
The essence of their mission is simplistic: “…to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests.” The goal is to be able to responsibly meet current needs for forest products without compromising forests for future generations. To accomplish this mission and vision the FSC developed 10 principles (and 57 criteria) which are applied to FSC certified products worldwide, these principles include:
- Compliance with Laws and FSC Criteria: Forest management practices must abide all local and country-wide laws, international treaties and agreements to which country is a party while also remaining in compliance with FSC criteria.
- Tenure and Use Rights Responsibilities: Use and tenure for long-term management of forest lands should be clearly and legally defined and documented in detail.
- Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: Legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, manage and use forests and resources on their lands and territories must be respected.
- Community Relations and Workers’ Rights: Management of forests must be responsible and enhance, where possible, long-term social and economic well-being of local communities and industry employees.
- Benefits from the Forest: Management techniques shall promote efficient use of the multiple forest resources available to ensure economic viability as well as social and environmental benefits.
- Environmental Impact: Biodiversity and its associated values, water and soil resources, sensitive ecosystems and landscapes must be conserved so as to preserve the integrity of ecological functions.
- Management Plan: A management plan must be developed, implemented and updated as-necessary. Said plan must be specific to the scale and intensity of forest management operations and clearly state the long-term objectives as well as the means to achieve them.
- Monitoring and Assessment: Continual monitoring of forest operations must be conducted to assess conditions, yields, chains of custody, management activities and social and environmental impacts.
- Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests: On forest lands of high conservation value, management activities must maintain or enhance resources and attributes which define these forests.
- Plantations: Principles 1-9 must govern the creation of plantations. Plantations can provide the population with a wide variety of benefits and products they also must contribute to the restoration and conservation of natural forests by not increasing pressure on precious natural resources.
The Forest Stewardship Council certifies forests which are responsibly managed in accordance with principles and criteria. Their certification ensures that products derived from these forests do not contribute to deforestation and ensure the value of lands will be maintained or enhanced for future generations. For more information on the Forest Stewardship council, certification, projects and criteria visit: https://us.fsc.org/index.htm.