FSC is a proven tool for sourcing forest materials that have minimum negative impacts on forests.
Deforestation, clearance or clearing is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Deforestation has several causes. The expansion of agriculture is the major cause, and infrastructure and urban development contribute, but damaging forestry practices are also relevant.
More and more companies that use agricultural or forest commodities are committing to ‘deforestation-free’ policies. For agricultural commodities, deforestation-free sourcing may be sufficient, but for companies using commodities from forests, ensuring that there are policies that prevent forest degradation is at least as important.
FSC prohibits deforestation and degradation
FSC has several strict requirements in place that ensure that certified forest managers maintain their forest cover, and maintain or enhance their forest’s structure, function, biodiversity and productivity. These include indicators for planning and monitoring forest management interventions, assessing risks and evaluating the impacts on forests.
- FSC does not allow deforestation, the conversion of natural forest areas into plantations or non-forest uses, or any other forms of forest ecosystem degradation in FSC-certified forests. This is complemented by specific requirements for the maintenance and/or enhancement of areas with high conservation value.
- FSC requires forest owners/managers to minimize the negative impacts of forest management interventions in order to avoid and compensate for any form of forest degradation. From 2016, FSC will apply International Generic Indicators to increase the consistency between forest management requirements, while still allowing for specific interpretations of this requirement depending on the forest type and state, the size of the forest management units, and specific social and ecological situations.
- To avoid involvement in the ‘greenwashing’ of earlier forest conversions, FSC has not allowed the certification of plantations that were converted from natural forest after 1994. Currently, FSC is revisiting this rule to see how it can allow FSC certification where the conversion of degraded forests is instrumental in leading to positive environmental and social results.