Forest Management Standard Revision

Working together to move Canadian forestry into the 21st century

FSC Canada is currently revising its Forest Management Standards (National Boreal Standard, Maritimes Standard, BC Standard and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence draft Standard) and aligning the Standards with the new Principles and Criteria.

FSC Canada initiated the standard revision process in 2012 to align to the new international generic indicators and merge all four regional standards into a single National Forest Management Standard that properly reflects the realities of forestry in Canada in 2017. Draft 1 of the standard was released for public consultation in 2015 and a second draft was released in 2016 for a 60-day public consultation. The draft standard was then field/desk tested in spring 2017. FSC Canada plans to have the final version of the standard approved in 2018.

Embarking on the final stages of the National Forest Management Standard

[November 13, 2017] Following the field testing of the National Forest Management Standard in spring 2017, the Standards Development Group has been working diligently to reach consensus on a final version of the standard.

The new standard has several key elements that differentiate it from its predecessor such as Indicators that deal with free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and managing species at risk. FSC Canada will be releasing a public summary of significant changes from Draft 2 to the pre-approved draft once the standard is finalized.

Upon approval by the Standards Development Group, the Standard will be sent to the FSC Canada Board of Directors in December 2017 and then will be submitted to FSC International for final approval in January 2018. We anticipate approval from FSC international by spring 2018.

Intact Forest Landscapes and Indigenous Cultural Landscapes
Indicators for intact forest landscapes and Indigenous cultural landscapes will continue to be developed until 2019. These requirements will be developed to be aligned with species at risk indicators; other landscape requirements; and Intact Forest Landscape approaches.

Scale, intensity and risk
Scale, intensity and risk indicators specific to smallholders and community forests will not be included in the final draft of the standard. With FSC International’s ‘New Approaches’ program aiming to enable smallholders to design a certification system that works for them, FSC Canada will work with FSC International to develop a smallholder and community standard and will adapt requirements in the next revision of FSC’s forest management standard. Until the new scale, intensity and risk related standard is ready, smallholder and community forests in Canada will be able to continue using existing regional forest management standards (BC, Maritimes and draft Great Lakes St-Lawrence Standard).

What happens once the standard is approved?
As of the effective date, Certificate holders will have 1 year to transition to the new standard. Within the transition period, certificate holders can choose to be audited to the current forest management standards or the revised National Forest Management Standard. But all certificate holders will be evaluated against the revised National Forest Management Standard within 1 year.

FSC Canada will support certificate holders and certification bodies with the transition and implementation of the revised standard with trainings beginning in 2018.

Forest Management Standard Testing

[March 8, 2017] Our goal with testing is to critically and objectively evaluate the possibility of conformance and implementation of the proposed Draft 2 indicators by a Forest Management Enterprise. We will also be assessing:

  • Impacts of significant changes against existing requirements;
  • Applicability over a range of conditions,
  • Forest types and contexts;
  • Socio-economic impacts of conformance; and
  • Auditability of the proposed indicators.

FSC’s Testing Program is divided into 2 general testing categories: internal and external tests. The primary difference between these types of tests is that internal tests are conducted by FSC staff/consultants and involve a more informal method of inquiry by presenting scenarios and analyzing potential outcomes. Alternatively, external tests are conducted by an independent 3rd party audit team and involves a more formal and objective evaluation of the implementation of Draft 2 requirements.

In total, 24 tests will be conducted, including 3 field tests of the entire standard, as well as 21 additional tests that explore key topics, including:

  • Dispute Resolution
  • Principle 3 & FPIC
  • Woodland caribou
  • Landscape Analysis
  • Stakeholder engagement in conservation land planning
  • Retention
  • Aquatic requirements

To ensure testing is representative of a wide range of forest types in Canada, we have chosen 15 forests that: vary from small, low intensity forests to large forests; are FSC-certified and non FSC-certified; public and private forests, and that are located in various regions across the country. FSC Canada would like to thank the 15 participating Forest Management Enterprises for volunteering to be part of the testing program.

Once the testing phase is complete in April/May 2017, the results will be used to inform the Standard Development Group’s final revision of the draft national standard, prior to submitting to FSC international for approval.


Consultation period: November 24, 2016 to February 17, 2017

[November 24, 2016] FSC Canada is pleased to launch a second consultation of its National Forest Management standard representing leadership in forest management.

Proactive and comprehensive, Draft 2 of the standard advances current practice, streamlines and improves the efficiency of standard requirements while moving towards alignment with the FSC international IGI framework.

Most notably, accompanying the second draft are three new documents which present current perspectives and guidance of the most complex aspects of the new FSC forest management standard:

1. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Guidance Document – released November 24, 2016
2. Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) Technical Working Document – released December 6, 2016
3. Indigenous Cultural Landscapes (ICL) Discussion Paper – released December 6, 2016

Tools and Resources

Delineating Intact Forest Landscapes

[May 25, 2017] With the release of FSC’s Advice Note related to the implementation of Motion 65 (Jan. 1, 2017), Certificate Holders are required to demonstrate that temporary protection measures are in place until National Forest Stewardship Standards (NFSS) are developed in countries with Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs).

To assist in meeting the requirements of the Advice Note, FSC Canada has prepared interim guidance that can be used by Certificate Holders in Canada to identify and delineate IFLs – the first step in ensuring the effective implementation of the Advice Note.

This interim guidance can be used immediately, and will eventually be replaced by indicators and final guidance in Canada’s NFSS.

Draft 2 Summary Report

The consultation process for Draft 1 engaged many stakeholders and Indigenous People. In total, more than 1500 comments were received. Following this consultation process, the Standard Development Group, Technical Expert Panels, committees, consultants, and FSC Staff reviewed and modified Indicators based on Draft 1 feedback. FSC Canada believes that Draft 2 represents a viable consensus ensuring the successful implementation of the new National Forest Management Standard.

FSC Forest Talk

The following videos are part of an information series to help you walk through proposed changes and updates to the draft National Forest Management standard.


Intact Forest Landscapes

Indigenous Cultural Landscapes


On December 1, 2015, FSC Canada released Draft 1 of the National Forest Management Standard for consultation. The consultation period ended February 2, 2016, and many engaged stakeholders reviewed and commented on the draft in order to assist in furthering its development.

In total, FSC Canada received 65 submissions, providing over 500 pages of comments and greatly appreciates the time and effort taken by stakeholders to assist in this process. For the entire consultation results from Draft 1 please see "Public Summary: Draft One Consultation of FSC Canada’s National Forest Management Standard".

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