About FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)

FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1993 to promote responsible forest management in forests around the world.

By purchasing certified timber products, it is guaranteed that the timber used in the product comes from responsibly managed forests based on social, economic and environmental criteria.

The organization is globally present in over 120 countries and provides services through the FSC International Centre located in Bonn, Germany, as well as through an international network of National Offices.

The main attributions of FSC:

  1. drafting standards;
  2. the accreditation of certification bodies through its independent Accreditation Services International (ASI) division and FSC National Initiatives;
  3. labelling of timber products.

Types of certifications:

1. Forest management certification

Forest management certification is the process of assessing how a forest area is managed in relation to a standard by an independent and accredited certification body.

The FSC® Principles and Criteria were first published in November 1994 and completed in 1996, 1999 and 2001.

The final version of the standard FSC® Principles & Criteria (FSC-STD-01-001 V 5-2) was published in June 2015.

The FSC Principles and Criteria Standard is the key document in forest management certification of any forest manager who wants to hold an FSC certificate.

FSC® Principles and Criteria for Forest Management Standard generally describe the elements and rules of proper management from an ecological point of view that brings social benefits and is economically viable. Compliance with these principles is the condition for obtaining the FSC certificate.

Based on these, national certification standards have been developed which details the principles and general criteria of forest management, through the development of specific indicators and verifiers.

For an application as close as possible to the specifics of our country, it was necessary to adapt the Indicators of this Standard so as to effectively and efficiently reflect the national legislation, the technical norms and the social, economic and environmental conditions of our country in a participatory process by properly involving relevant stakeholders. The FSC National Forest Management Standard was developed by a National Work Group accredited by FSC International in 2014. This National Standard and the entire process can be accessed at www.standardnational.ro

2. Chain of custody certification

Forest management certification is continued through the so-called “chain of custody” certification that seeks to develop tracking mechanisms for timber or non-timber products from certified forests from source to consumer (final buyer). By doing so, it is intended that the entire certified timber route starting from the forest and passing through transport, primary and secondary processing, sale and delivery, can be identified and documented to prove its origin at any time.

Chain of custody certification is a must for companies that harvest, process or sell certified timber and want to label these products with the FSC name or label. As with forest management certification, the company is audited against a standard called the Chain of Custody Standard (FSC-STD-40-004 V3-0) by an independent and accredited certification body.

Certification benefits

Currently, certification is a market mechanism; there is demand and supply for FSC® certified wood and implicitly an increased interest in the production and marketing of certified products. Mainly, the decision to enter the certification process is generally related to gaining some advantages (for example: access to the certified timber market – Western Europe or North America respectively). In addition, buyers on these markets are increasingly informed and educated about the role of forests and the role of forest management certification.

Producers of certified raw materials and certified product manufacturers, in addition to accessing new markets, can get the following benefits:

Improvement of management systems, including planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms;

Recognition of the quality of the practiced management, according to an international standard;

Improving business and production management processes and business ethics;

Access to credits and investments;

Safety of the existing market as it becomes more and more difficult to achieve;

Companies can respond to the demand for controlled products;

What is controlled wood FSC®?

Controlled wood” means wood or timber products of known origin and not derived from sources considered unacceptable by the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC®).

The wood categories regarded as unacceptable sources are:

  • wood from illegal harvesting;
  • wood harvested in violation of civil or traditional rights;
  • wood from forests where high conservation values ​​are threatened by management activities;
  • wood from natural forests transformed by conversion into plantations or lands for other uses;
  • wood coming from forests where genetically modified trees are planted.

The necessary requirements to avoid the inclusion of wood materials from sources considered unacceptable in the chain of custody of certified products are regulated by the new Controlled Wood Standard FSC-STD-40-005, which entered into force on 1 July 2016.
The latest version of the standard is FSC-STD-40-005 V3-1, approved in February and published in March, 2017.
This standard establishes the requirements for a due diligence system in assessing and mitigating the risk associated with the materials provided without FSC declaration.
The Controlled Wood Standard requires the use of risk assessments to identify and assess the supply risk from unacceptable sources. When identifying a specified or unspecified risk with regard to the origin of the material or the risk of mixing it in the supply chain, the organization will implement risk mitigation measures.

What type of risk assessment do we apply?

According to the new standard for Controlled Wood, the risk assessment of timber origin for a particular supply area can only be achieved by the interested companies, unless there is already a FSC approved risk assessment (i.e. the National Risk Assessment for Controlled Wood – NRA or Centralized Risk Assessment at National Level – CNRA).
The hierarchy of risk assessments that can be used for the implementation of this standard is shown in the following figure:


The concept of controlled wood has emerged as a market need generated by the fact that certified sources cannot provide enough wood material to meet the needs of the wood processing industry that wants to sell FSC certified products.

In case of certification of forest districts or forestry departments according to the controlled wood standard, the provisions of the FSC-STD-30-010 V2-0 standard shall be implemented (FSC Controlled Wood Standard for forest districts).

Benefits

Through an appropriate implementation of this certification system, the operators in the wood industry not only follow and comply with the legal provisions, thus contributing to the promotion of a responsible forest management, but also generate other benefits that contribute to the sustainable development of local communities:

  • offers the opportunity to express views by stakeholders through a transparent and participatory process (through public consultations and intimation and complaint procedures);
  • promotes, as a whole, responsible forest management alongside the ecological, social and cultural benefits arising of it, and in particular the identification, the protection and the monitoring of High Conservation Values;
  • direct economic benefits and/or access on the certified wood market;
  • instrument for compliance with the legal provisions imposed on “operators” in the wood industry by the European Regulation (Reg. 995/2010);

DUE DILIGENCE SYSTEM (DDS)

The Due Diligence System (DDS) in acceptance of the FSC Controlled Wood Standard is a system of measures and procedures to reduce the risk of material supplied from unacceptable sources. A Due Diligence System usually includes the following three elements: obtaining information, assessing risk, reducing risk (when necessary).

Under the FSC Controlled Wood Standard, the Due Diligence system represents an adaptation of the due diligence system described in EU Timber Regulation No. 995/2010 (EUTR).

According to the FSC-STD-40-005 V3-1 standard, any company wishing to acquire controlled material, process or market timber or timber products with the “FSC Controlled Wood statement” must have implement and maintain a due diligence system (DDS) documented for material purchases without FSC declaration to be used as controlled material or sold with the FSC Controlled Wood declaration “.

The main requirements for the development and implementation of a due diligence system by an economic operator are:

  • The organization may choose to develop its own DDS or apply one developed by an external party;
  • The organization must include in its own DDS all suppliers and sub-suppliers of material evaluated in accordance with this standard.
  • The organization must provide access to evidence of compliance with the applicable requirements of this standard, including access to documents, harvesting sites, suppliers’ and sub-suppliers’ premises, where relevant.
  • The organization must review and, if necessary, revise its DDS system at least annually and whenever changes occur that affect its relevance, effectiveness, or suitability.
  • The organization must conduct internal audits of its own DDS system at least once a year to ensure it is implemented correctly.
  • The organization must document the scope, source of material, supply chain and staff involved in internal audits.

 

Risk assessment

The organization must use the applicable FSC risk assessment (NRA or CNRA) to determine the material risk for each category of controlled timber.

The organization needs to adapt its DDS and using FSC risk assessments within six months of their FSC approval.

The organization must assess and document the risk of mixing material with purchases of ineligible material in its supply chains during transportation, processing and storage.

Whenever a specified or unspecified risk is identified regarding the origin and / or risk of entry of ineligible material into the supply chain, the organization must implement risk mitigation measures.

 

Risk mitigation

The organization must maintain and implement appropriate control measures to avoid or reduce the specified or unspecified risk with respect to the origin and / or risk of mixing with non-eligible material in the supply chain.

If the legal requirements could be in conflict with appropriate control measures, the control measures must be approved by the certification body prior to their implementation.

Public consultation can be used both as a control measure (mandatory for categories 2 and 3 with unspecified risk) and as a tool to verify that control measures are appropriate.

For CW categories 2 and 3, the organization must use the opinion of at least one expert to justify the adequacy of the control measures. The experts used must meet the minimum requirements set out in Annex C.

More information on the requirements to be met by an economic operator wishing to implement Due Diligence can be found in Section I of the FSC-STD-40-005 V3-1 Requirements for Sourcing Controlled Wood standard.

Quality Management System

1. Competence, documentation and records
The organization shall appoint a management representative to be responsible for the organization’s conformity with all applicable requirements of this standard.

All relevant staff shall demonstrate awareness of the organization’s procedures, and competence in implementing the applicable requirements of this standard.

The organization shall implement documented procedures covering all applicable requirements of this standard.

The organization shall maintain records and documentation demonstrating its conformity with this standard, and ensure that they are readily available to the certification body.
The organization shall retain all relevant records for a minimum of five (5) years.

2. Publicly available information
The organization shall provide a written summary of its DDS to the certification body.

3. Stakeholder input and complaints
The organization shall develop and implement a documented procedure to handle comments and complaints from stakeholders that are related to its DDS.
The procedure shall include mechanisms for:

  • Acknowledging receipt of complaints;
  • Informing stakeholders of the complaint procedure, and providing an initial response to complainants within a time period of two (2) weeks;
  • Dialogue with complainants that aims to solve complaints assessed as substantial before further actions are taken;
  • Forwarding substantial complaints to the certification body and relevant FSC National Office for the supply area within two (2) weeks of receipt of the complaint;
  • Employing a precautionary approach towards the continued sourcing of the relevant material while a complaint is pending;
  • Determining the corrective action to be taken by suppliers and the means to enforce its implementation by a supplier if a complaint has been assessed and verified as substantial;
  • Excluding the relevant material and suppliers from the organization’s supply chain if no corrective action is taken;
  • Recording and filing all complaints received and actions taken.

NOTE: The minimum requirements to be observed for stakeholder consultation can be found in ANNEX B.
More information on the quality management system can be found in Section II of the FSC-STD-40-005 V3-1 Requirements for sourcing Controlled Wood standard.