The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible managementof the world’s forests. The FSC does this by setting standards on forest products, along with certifying and labeling them as eco-friendly.
The FSC’s stated mission is to "promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests". To this end the body has published a Global Strategy with five Goals:
|1.||Compliance with all applicable laws and international treaties.|
|2.||Demonstrated and uncontested, clearly defined, long–term land tenure and use rights.|
|3.||Recognition and respect of indigenous people’s rights.|
|4.||Maintenance or enhancement of long-term social and economic of forest workers and local communities and respect of worker's rights in compliance with(ILO) conventions.|
|5.||Equitable use and sharing of benefits derived from the forest.|
|6.||Reduction of environmental impact logging activities and maintenance of the ecological functions and integrity of the forest.|
|7.||Appropriate and continuously updated management plan.|
|8.||Appropriate monitoring and assessment activities to assess the condition of the forest, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.|
|9.||Maintenance of defined as forests containing environmental and social values that are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance.|
|10.||In addition to compliance with all of the above, must contribute to reduce the pressures on and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.|
The FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) system allows the tracking of FSC certified material from the forest to the consumer. It is a method by which companies can show their commitment to the environment and responsible forest management. Only companies that have FSC chain of custody certification are allowed to use the FSC trademarks and labels to promote their products. The FSC label therefore provides a link between responsible production and responsible consumption and helps the consumer to make socially and environmentally responsible buying decisions.
Once a forest is certified it is important to be able to trace the products that come from it throughout the supply chain to ensure that any claims on the origin of the product are credible and verifiable. FSC chain of custody certification is a voluntary process. It is a tracking system that allows manufacturers and traders to demonstrate that timber comes from a forest that is responsibly managed in accordance with the FSC P&C. It tracks the flow of certified wood through the supply chain and across borders through each successive stage - including processing, transformation and manufacturing - all the way to the final product. It is up to a company to initiate the certification process by requesting the services of an independent certification body to inspect its internal tracking procedures. Only FSC-accredited certification bodies can evaluate, monitor and certify companies to FSC standards. Companies committing to FSC include home-improvement or DIY companies, publishers and retailers, amongst many others.
All operations that want to produce an FSC certified product or want to make corresponding sales claims must comply with FSC’s international standards for chain of custody. An operation must specify the range of products they wish to sell as FSC certified and promote with the FSC trademark. The certification body inspects the operation to ensure that controls are in place to identify eligible sources for the specified product range and to prevent certified and recycled material from mixing with material from unacceptable sources. If an operation complies with FSC standards, the company is issued an FSC chain of custody certificate. Major failure to comply with the standard will normally disqualify the candidate from certification or lead to de-certification.
The FSC Mix label was introduced in 2004. It allows manufacturers to mix FSC certified material with uncertified materials in FSC labelled products under controlled conditions. It aims to avoid the use of wood products from ‘unacceptable’ sources in FSC labeled products. Unacceptable sources include illegally harvested wood, wood harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights, wood harvested in HCV forests and wood harvested from areas where genetically modified trees are planted