The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) established a forest management certification program to ensure that products come from well-managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
FSC is an international membership organization with members coming from diverse backgrounds including environmental NGOs, the timber industry and trade, community forest groups and forest certification organizations. FSC developed a set of 10 Principles and 57 Criteria for forest management that are applicable to all FSC-certified forests throughout the world.
In July 2010, FSC released the US Standard v1.0 which combined the nine regional standards that previously guided forest management in different areas of the country. However, regional variation still exists within the national standard and some indicators contain specific guidance for the Pacific Coast Region (Washington, Oregon, and California). Furthermore, this US Standard v1.0 has specific indicators for Family Forests. The members of NNRG’s FSC group certificate are evaluated annually as to their adherence with these indicators.
The 10 FSC Principles
Principle #1: Compliance with Laws and FSC Principles
Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.
Principle #2: 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.
Principle #3: 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.
Principle #4: Community Relations and Workers’ Rights
Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities.
Principle #5: Benefits from the Forest
Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environ-mental and social benefits.
Principle #6: Environmental Impact
Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.
Principle #7: Management Plan
A management plan – appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations – shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long-term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated.
Principle #8: Monitoring and Assessment
Monitoring shall be conducted – appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management – to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.
Principle #9: Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests
Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach.
Principle #10: Plantations
Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles and Criteria 1-9, and Principle 10 and its Criteria. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world’s need for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.
FSC Chain of Custody
Certification doesn’t end with at the edge of the forest. For a product to be FSC certified, every business in the manufacturing and distribution chain must undergo a Chain of Custody audit to ensure that certified and non-certified materials are kept separate and that FSC claims are legitimate. In short, an FSC certified log must be able to be tracked from the woods, through the manufacturing process and to the final product that is placed on the retail shelf. This rigorous chain of custody process is part of what makes FSC unique among forest certification programs.
FSC Markets in the Northwest
The goal of NNRG’s landowner stewardship and certification program is to maximize the market power of FSC to ensure that landowners are receiving the highest possible value for their forest products. Northwest FSC markets can offer producers a premium price, but it is important to realize that FSC premiums can vary widely and are subject to a variety of factors, including species, grade, location, etc. In many areas there may be gaps in the FSC Chain of Custody manufacturing process to support high-volume production of particular products or species. NNRG works with its members and partners to identify local market opportunities.
Major market drivers for FSC in the Northwest include:
- Numerous green construction standards and associations, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s L.E.E.D. Standard, BuiltGreen, Earth Advantage, the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, the AIA Committee on the Environment, and others
- The City of Seattle’s FSC Purchasing Program through Dunn Lumber, Compton Lumber, and Sylvan Industries
- A broad regional retailer network, including companies such as Carl’s Building Supply, Compton Lumber, Dunn Lumber, Edensaw Woods, Endura Woods, Environmental Building Supplies, Environmental Home Center, Green Mountain Woodworks, Miller Lumber, Oregon Lumber, Parr Lumber, Windfall Lumber, and others
- Over 200 manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and brokers certified on the West Coast for maintaining FSC Chain of Custody
- Strong demand in the Northeastern U.S., Europe, and East Asia