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Understand about Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Wood

I think we all agree, that trees a not only beautiful, but a critical part of our ecosystem that we want to enjoy today and into the future.  

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the global agency that sets out to ensure sustainable and responsible management of forests. The actual certification process can happen in a matter of weeks and there are currently 45,000 companies holding the FSC Chain-of-Custody certification, with thousands more certified under the group scheme..

Written by Scott Larsen

About the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

The FSC is a globally recognised non-profit organization that is mandated to promote a responsible and sustainable management of forests.   To achieve this, the Forest Stewardship Council offers a range of certification for corporates.    

The two most widely used programs are:

  • FSC Chain-of-Custody Certified – This certification tracks materials through the supply chain, to ensure they support FSC certified forest management.  Worldwide, more than 45,000 companies are FSC Chain-of-Custody certified, ranging from very small organisations to massive worldwide brands from companies such as IKEA, Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and many others.    
  •  FSC Group Certification – Targeted for smaller companies to share the costs of certification on a group basis.   With the total number of companies using this certification approaching 100,000.

What are the areas that the Forest Stewardship Council focus on?

In line with their largest certification programs, the FSC, has six program areas that it specifically focuses on.  

These are:

  • Chain of custody 
  •  Social Policy 
  •  Monitoring and Evaluation 
  •  Quality Assurance Ecosystem Services

Within the above broad areas of the FSC, there are programs that specifically address issues including:

  • Illegal logging
  •  Deforestation and global warming 
  •  Environmental conservation 
  •  Poverty alleviation 
  •  Social and political empowerment

How do you know if a brand is FSC Certified?

Brands that hold the FSC certification will be allowed to use the FSC logo on their products.   From a user’s perspective, this this means the brand you will be buying have met the requirements for FSC certification specifically you can be sure:

  1. The product has been sustainably and responsibly sourced according to FSC environmental standards 
  2. Also the item is socially beneficial (from the region it was sourced) and remains economically viable for that community

What are the specific types of products that you can expect to see the FSC label?

While there are millions of brands that sell wooden furniture and wooden items, it is recommended that we purchase FSC certified wooden furniture & products as responsible citizens of this planet. FSC certification gives you the credibility and is an effective way to showcase yourself as someone who cares about the planet and world’s forest. Although, it is usually believed that these wooden brands and products are highly expensive, the fact is that they come at affordable price tags.   

 The great news is the FSC certification label has been widely adopted and is used across a range of timber and non-timber products. 

 Some categories are:

  • Houseware – such as Kitchenware and Utensils  
  • Paper 
  • Furniture 
  •  Medicine 
  •  Jewellery

Historically it was believed that FSC certified wooden brands are hard to find and they are not accessible easily.  Both of which are untrue. 

 FSC has been growing all over the world and many wooden companies are now becoming members of this organization. Hence, FSC certified wooden furniture and brands are easily available with many major retailers such as Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, Kimberly-Clark and Unilever.  

 The quality of the wood is available in all grades and therefore it would be wrong to say that FSC certified woods are low quality. FSC certification does not provide grades, but looks into the firm’s quality management approach. Hence, it is recommended that you look out for good quality affordable FSC certified wooden brands that offer value for money deals.

Why should you buy FSC Certified Wooden Brands?

The worlds trees and agriculture are literally the life-giving component we all need to survive on earth.   Trees convert CO2 in our atmosphere to oxygen and the world’s forests provide the ecosystems for the vast majority of life of earth. 

 Having the Forest Stewardship Council as a politically independent organization, ensures a situation that Dr Seuss popularised in the famous book, the Lorax from becoming a reality. Or looked at from another perspective:

“A hundred years ago, there were one-and-a-half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity.”  
-  Sir David Attenborough

In order for us to maintain places left untouched in order to preserve these ecosystems, there needs to be levels of control and oversight.  This is where FSC step in.   

The Forest Stewardship Council works in collaboration with members like WWF and Greenpeace, Tetra Pak and Mondi PLC along with other forest managers and owners that allow them to define the best practices to keep forest area safe and address multiple social and environmental issues. Together they also set highest standards for forest management.

The process of getting FSC Certified

To be certified, a company has to hire an auditor, which is a basic consulting engagement. Usually it is smart to solicit a few bids, which can add a bit of time to manage.    

 For companies in the chain of custody with good accounting systems, the Chain-of-Custody certification should not require many new changes in company processes. COC certification requires companies to track their eligible FSC inputs, and the conversion of these inputs into FSC certified products they sell. For many companies, such tracking is already part of their management systems. But if a company does not track its invoices and inventory closely, then additional work will be required to manage these processes as part of the FSC certification process.    

 To learn more about certification go to the US FSC website 


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