Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is one of the latest members of the Forest Resources Association. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) helps consumers and companies identify and purchase products from responsibly managed forests. FSC is unique because it is a member-driven program practiced worldwide in over 90 countries on six continents. I am going to share some of the unique aspects of FSC membership, why my position was created, and what I have done to assist forest management certificate holders during my first year.
FSC is a membership-based organization open to all organizations and individuals that share FSC’s mission of responsible forest management. Chain of custody and forest management certificate holders are not automatically members. Certificate holders are encouraged to become members. Members are a separate part of FSC from the certificate holders. Members are divided into three chambers: economic, environmental, and social. Each chamber has 1/3 voting power. Members elect the national and international boards of directors and decide on policy and governance motions at triennial General Assemblies. A General Assembly meeting is being held this year in Bali, Indonesia. More information on FSC membership can be found HERE.
At the direction of the FSC US board of directors, I was hired to focus on helping forest management certificate holders. During my forestry career, I have worked in procurement and land management roles across the country. I support the 91 FSC-certified forest management groups and individual forest management units located in 32 states, covering over 36 million acres. Since my hiring in November 2021, I have been calling and visiting forest management certificate holders across the U.S. to hear about their unique challenges and success stories with the FSC forest management system.
FSC US forest management certificate holders are a diverse group ranging from government institutions to conservation organizations to investors. One of my core roles is connecting these various groups and potential members. In February 2022, we received a call from a company seeking FSC-certified hardwood dust for making grilling pellets. I was able to put them in touch with several suppliers and connect them to a coworker, Jenna Mueller, who is our Chain of Custody expert. I helped another chain of custody certificate holder develop new relationships with several FSC forest management certificate holders. I have been able to share knowledge gained from one certificate holder to help another solve the same issue. At times I promote FSC tools like the “Build with FSC” website, where users select from several menus to find FSC products Climate Smart Wood.
I also communicate with certification bodies, also known as auditors. Their third-party verification work is critical to validating both forest management and chain of custody certification claims. Thus, giving landowners, conservation trusts, government agencies, investors, and the public at large the assurance that the forestland is being managed according to the FSC standard, which, research shows, is highly valued by consumers worldwide.
A common topic that has arisen during conversations with certificate holders is the status of the National Forest Stewardship Standard revision, which is currently in progress. FSC U.S. has received thousands of comments during the two public comment periods. When the work is complete, the revised National Forest Stewardship Standard will need to be approved by the U.S. Board of Directors and then the International Board of Directors. We expect approval and publication by FSC International in 2023. The transition period for the new standard will start after that.
Forest certification is a way to connect landowners to highly trained professionals who can assist them in managing their timberlands effectively for multiple natural resources and economic and community values. FSC is setting a high bar for certification. When the public buys a product with the FSC trademark, they can have confidence that the FSC system is delivering “Forests For All, Forests Forever.”
Author Thomas Kain
FSC US Senior Manager Forest Certification Markets
Reviewed by Jeffrey K Jenkins
FRA Appalachian Region Consultant