The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) is an organisation that has been promoting the sustainable management of forests for more than 25 years. And anyone who chooses FSC-certified paper or wood products today supports an internationally recognised trademark with globally valid standards. To ensure that products bearing the FSC label have actually been manufactured from the corresponding raw materials, the FSC uses the tried and tested instrument of chain of custody (COC) certification. This means that every company within the product chain – from the forest right through to the end customer – has to establish an internal procedure that ensures that FSC-certified materials remain identifiable at all times. If the company complies with all the rules, it is awarded the FSC certificate. This then entitles the firm to advertise with the FSC trademark and to label the certified (end) products with the FSC label.
Many people are familiar with the FSC label. But what exactly does it stand for? What ecological, social and economic goals has the label set for itself? This is revealed in the ten principles that form the basis on which the FSC awards its certificates:
Principle 1: Compliance with laws
The Organisation shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally-ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements.
Principle 2: Workers' rights and employment conditions
The Organisation shall maintain or enhance the social and economic well-being of workers.
Principle 3: Indigenous peoples' rights
The Organization shall identify and uphold indigenous peoples‘ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.
Principle 4: Community relations
The Organization shall contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic well-being of local communities.
Principle 5: Benefits from the forest
The Organization shall efficiently manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits.
Principle 6: Environmental values and impact
The Organization shall maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.
Principle 7: Management planning
The Organization shall have a management plan consistent with its policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities. The management plan shall be implemented and kept up to date based on monitoring information in order to promote adaptive management. The associated planning and procedural documentation shall be sufficient to guide staff, inform affected stakeholders and interested stakeholders and to justify management decisions.
Principle 8: Monitoring and assessment
The Organisation shall demonstrate that progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit are monitored and evaluated proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities in order to implement adaptive management.
Principle 9: High conservation values
The Organization shall maintain and/or enhance the high conservation values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach.
Principle 10: Implementation of management activities
Management activities conducted by or for the Organisation for the Management Unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with the Organisation’s economic, environmental and social policies and objectives, and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.
Companies that promote the sale of FSC-certified products can credibly communicate their responsible use of forest resources. Above all, they benefit from the high level of credibility and the positive image of the FSC label. This is also shown by the current GlobeScan consumer study from October 2021: 76% of consumers who recognise the trademark say that it motivates them to buy a product.
Companies and paper, office supplies and stationery retailers without FSC® certification require a so called promotional licence to use FSC-certified products and materials with the FSC trademarks, e.g. on their website, in flyers, brochures or catalogues.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international, non-profit organisation with the aim of making ecologically and socially responsible forest management globally visible on products with the help of a trademark. FSC Germany, a non-profit association, represents the interests of FSC as a national organisation. In Germany, around 1.44 million hectares of forest are FSC-certified and almost 4,000 companies have certification according to the FSC standards (as of January 2022). Among other things, the FSC stands for forest management that does not overexploit forests, promotes biodiversity and acts transparently towards citizens and organisations. The FSC ensures fair remuneration and greater citizen participation. Worldwide, more than 221 million hectares of forest are certified according to FSC standards. Over 60,000 companies in 137 countries use the FSC to label and promote products from responsible forest management.
Anyone wishing to stand for sustainability when selling paper goods prefers to offer recycled paper, alternative types of paper or paper with an environmental trademark, one of which is the FSC trademark. It identifies paper, cardboard or wood products made from wood originating from sustainably managed forests and other responsible or controlled sources. By selling FSC-certified products, companies can demonstrate to their customers that they are serious about climate protection and act with ecological and social responsibility.