Doing The Right Thing

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. With public concern over the destruction of forests mounting, demand for products that originate from well-managed forests is at an all time high. This demand means many different labels have appeared on forest products, shouting claims like ‘for every tree felled at least two are planted’.

Unfortunately, many of these claims are irrelevant, misleading or bogus, something which was demonstrated in an authoritative study by the Worldwide fund for Nature (WWF). It found that out of a sample of 80 different environmental claims found on wood and paper products, only three could even be partially substantiated.

The Forest Stewardship Council

The FSC aims to clear up the confusion by providing a truly independent, international and credible labelling scheme on timber and timber products. The intention is to offer the consumer a guarantee that the product comes from a forest which has been evaluated and certified as being managed according to agreed social, economic and environmental standards.

The FSC is an association of members consisting of a diverse group of representatives from environmental and social groups, the timber trade and the forestry profession, indigenous people’s organisations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organisations from around the world. Membership is open to all who are involved in forestry or forest products and share its aims and objectives.

The organisation is run on a day-to-day basis from a head office in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, by an executive director and eight full-time staff. It is controlled by an elected Board which consists of people from industry, conservation groups, indigenous people’s representatives and scientific groups.

Mission

The FSC is introducing an international labelling scheme for forest products which is intended to provide a credible guarantee that the product comes from a well managed forest. Rigorous procedures and standards have been developed to support this scheme, which is intended to evaluate whether organisations (certification bodies) can provide an independent and competent forest evaluation (certification) service. This process is known as ‘accreditation’.

FSC-accredited certification bodies are required to evaluate all forests aiming for certification according to the FSC principles and criteria for forest stewardship. All accredited certification bodies may operate internationally and may carry out evaluations in any forest type. Certified forests are visited on a regular basis, to ensure they continue to comply with the principles and criteria. As a result, certification provides a market incentive for good forest stewardship.

The FSC also supports the development of national and local standards that implement the international FSC principles and criteria at a local level. These standards are developed by national and regional working groups which work to achieve consensus amongst the wide range of people and organisations involved in forest management and conservation. FSC has also developed guidelines for developing regional certification standards to assist working groups in this process.

The performance of certification bodies is closely monitored by FSC. Products originating from forests certified by FSC-accredited certification bodies are eligible to carry the FSC-logo, if the chain-of-custody (tracking of the timber from the forest to the shop) has been checked.

Case Study

Reforestation in the State of Para – Brazil Large areas in the Brazilian Amazon that were degraded by the inadequate use of soil can be used for reforestation. These areas are the result of the failure and abandonment of agricultural colonisation projects developed primarily during the construction of the Belém-Brasilia Highway. The important reforestation project developed by Tramontina in the State of Para, in the Aurora do Para County, is aimed exactly at the recovery of the these degraded areas through a heterogeneous reforestation system (mahogany, cedar, senna and other species). In this system, sites with low productivity or partly devastated forests are thickened with more noble species.

The plantation is done in lines of enrichment and also uses small clearings. The planted species can grow without direct sunlight, and tall and straight trunks are obtained. For each m² of raw material used to manufacture wood products, Tramontina Belém plants six noble species tree samplings. 70,000 new trees are planted annually, which not only allows for the regeneration of semi-destroyed forests, but also prevents the extinction of the native species. The reforestation with noble species, supplemented with rapid growth species, to cut at 25 years intervals, offer an average production of 300 m²/ha. In a native forest, this production is about 40 m²/ha in 50 year intervals.

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