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FSC Explained

FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide. FSC provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry. The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value. FSC is nationally represented in more than 50 countries around the world.

Responsible Forest Management

 Responsible Forest Management provides a way of using trees and non-timber forest products to meet people's ever-increasing need for lumber, paper and other products without degrading forest ecosystems.

  • The forest is well maintained under FSC certification guidelines to assure it remains healthy and productive.
  • Trees are selected from FSC forests so as to not cause undue damage to the ecosystem.
  • The effect foresting has on the land is mitigated to the greatest degree possible to avoid damage to the ecosystem.
  • Harvested areas are replanted and maintained to keep the forest and surrounding lands healthy, vibrant and productive.

FSC Principles

There are 10 Principles and 57 Criteria that address legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts surrounding forest management. FSC Principles go beyond just managing the land responsibly. They take a holistic approach regarding how land management will affect the whole community. This is why they are endorsed by all major environmental groups and are considered the “Gold Standard” for certification.

PRINCIPLE 1: COMPLIANCE WITH LAWS AND FSC PRINCIPLES

 Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria. 

PRINCIPLE 2: TENURE AND USE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established. 

PRINCIPLE 3: INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

 The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognized and respected. 

PRINCIPLE 4: COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND WORKER’S RIGHTS

Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well being of forest workers and local communities. 

PRINCIPLE 5: BENEFITS FROM THE FOREST

Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits. 

PRINCIPLE 6: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

 Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest. 

PRINCIPLE 7: MANAGEMENT PLAN

A management plan -- appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations -- shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long-term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated. 

PRINCIPLE 8: MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT

Monitoring shall be conducted -- appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management -- to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts. 

PRINCIPLE 9: MAINTENANCE OF HIGH CONSERVATION VALUE FORESTS

 Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach. 

PRINCIPLE 10: PLANTATIONS

 Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles and Criteria 1 - 9, and Principle 10 and its Criteria. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world’s needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.

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