National Standard Development

Beginning in late 2012, FSC Canada launched a process to revise and align FSC Canada’s regional FM Standards (National Boreal Standard (2004), Maritimes Standard (2008), BC Standard (2005) and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence draft Standard (2010)) with the revised Principles and Criteria and International Generic Indicators.

The process followed comprehensive public consultation processes and internal research and analysis, with work spanning over 6 years. This included stakeholder surveys and forums, expert consultation, assessments of FSC International’s Principles & Criteria and International Generic Indicators, comparisons of Canada’s regional FSC standards, collaboration with FSC International, and two national public 60 day consultations on the draft National Forest Management Standard. Below is a summary of the key steps in the process.

Consistent Global Application of FSC's Principles & Criteria

In February 2012, the FSC membership approved the first major revision to the global Principles and Criteria, bringing FSC certification current with the policies, best practices and lessons learned since its inception in 1993. FSC then developed a set of International Generic Indicators (IGIs) is to ensure consistent application of the global Principles & Criteria so that the intent of the Principles & Criteria is shared across all countries. The International Generic Indicators were used by FSC Canada’s national Standard Development Groups to transfer FSC Canada’s national Forest Stewardship Standard to the FSC Principles and Criteria (version 5-1).

Who developed the standard?

FSC Canada assembled an eight person Standards Development Group, to support the development of a National Forest Management Standard with common indicators. The Standards Development Group was assembled with representation across chambers (Aboriginal Peoples, Social, Environmental and Economic), with an equal number of people in each chamber and consideration for regional representation, gender balance and diversity of experience. A full list of participants is located in Annex 1 of the National Forest Management Standard)

FSC Canada assembled Technical Expert Panels to assist with the development of the National Forest Management Standard in key thematic areas. These Panels provided technical guidance and recommendations to be considered when developing indicators and supplementary materials. A full list of participants is located in Annex 1 of the National Forest Management Standard)


On April 10, 2018, FSC Canada released a copy of the final draft that was submitted to FSC International for review and final approval.

Forest Management Standard Testing

[March 8, 2017] With the release of Draft 2 of the National Forest Management Standard, FSC Canada embarked on the testing phase of standard development with the goal of critically and objectively evaluate the possibility of conformance and implementation of the proposed Draft 2 indicators by a Forest Management Enterprise. We assessed:

  • 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.

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 chose 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.


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

On November 24, 2016, FSC Canada released Draft 2 of the National Forest Management Standard for consultation. The consultation period ended on February 17, 2016 and received 30 submissions, providing over 300 pages of comments.

Key Changes include:

  • Disputes (Criteria 1.6, 2.6, 4.6, 7.6)
  • Identification of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and Free, Prior & Informed Consent (Criteria 3.1 & 3.2)
  • Landscape Management (Indicator 6.1.3, Criterion 6.8)
  • Structure of Criterion 6.3
  • Woodland Caribou (Indicator 6.4.3)
  • Conservation Areas Network (Criterion 6.5)
  • Management Plans (Indicator 7.2.2)
  • Monitoring (Criterion 8.2)
  • Pesticides (Criterion 10.7)

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

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

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.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205