The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is a membership organization with a governance structure based on participation, democracy, equity and transparency. It is a unique forum where stakeholders from around the world meet and, through consensus-based multi-stakeholder processes, define essential social and environmental criteria for forest management.
FSC has defined 10 principles and associated criteria that describe how forests must be managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. These fundamental principles are realized in forests worldwide through FSC certification. Through programs, services and solutions that support FSC certification, the Forest Stewardship Council empowers organizations, businesses and communities to support responsible forest management. FSC uses certification to engage the market, driving recognition of the value of forests to improve social and environmental practices in forests worldwide. FSC’s core activities are to provide internationally recognized standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies, organizations and communities interested in responsible forestry.
Certification allows productive forests and manufacturers to follow the vision and mission of FSC, with verification of environmental and social performance to ensure responsible management practices. To earn FSC certification and the right to use the FSC label, an organization must conform to all applicable FSC requirements. Managing forests in accordance with FSC Principles and Criteria means following exacting social and environmental guidelines, and often requires managers to adapt their management and operations. This is how FSC has a direct and permanent positive impact on the world’s forests and on the people living from, in and around the forest.
In 2012, over 150 million hectares of forest are FSC certified in more than 80 countries around the world. The FSC logo and on-product labels have become the globally trusted mark for businesses and consumers looking for forest products that benefit people and the environment and that also provide ongoing business value.
The FSC label offers a credible link between responsible production and consumption, enabling the consumer to make socially and environmentally responsible purchasing decisions. Increasingly, governments and other organizations specify FSC certified products in their purchasing policies. Because FSC has the only globally valid standard, it is also the only standard that is no barrier to trade under the World Trade Organization (WTO). FSC’s current unprecedented growth rate is a response to pressing market demand for FSC certified products. This affects forests in a positive way by driving demand for improved forestry practices and recognition for independent review.