Quality and consistency

Improving the quality and consistency of our standards is an important step in strengthening our certification scheme. Enhancing the application of these standards is just as important.

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Taking action

The integrity of our system is a core consideration in everything we do. Without it, we cannot operate. This means we will take action against certificate holders – whether a small forest owner or a multinational business – should they not manage their forests in accordance with our rules.

In 2018, we announced plans to begin work on a comprehensive generic roadmap that will become a baseline for possibly ending disassociation with businesses that have been involved in significant forest conversion issues and unacceptable activities, as defined by the FSC Policy for Association. 

It will offer a robust set of guidelines and a framework that will be adaptable to businesses involved in future processes to end disassociation to support credible, transparent and fair procedures.

For example, in 2018, we worked on the following cases:


A panel of experts was appointed in January 2018 and started a proactive investigation of alleged Policy for Association (PfA) violations of Jari Group in Brazil. FSC initiated the investigation based on a preliminary investigation carried out to address stakeholder concerns about the operations of the group. By the end of 2018, the investigation was completed and ready for a decision by the FSC Board of Directors.

A panel of experts investigated the alleged involvement of the Korindo Group in conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use, destruction of species of high conservation value, and violation of traditional and human rights in Indonesia. We also carried out additional research to complement the complaint panel’s final report. At the time of finalizing this report, the process was still ongoing.

In 2018, we continued to monitor the development of an action plan by Schweighofer describing the measures the company plans to implement to improve its systems and operations, following the requirements stipulated by FSC as part of its conditions framework

The conditions framework is a document describing the conditions the company must fulfil for FSC to reconsider its disassociated status. These conditions include the correction of identified failures in the company’s systems, the prevention of reoccurrence of the identified issues, mitigation of risks of being involved in the trade of illegal wood and the implementation of social and environmental projects as compensation for the negative impacts caused to the Romanian forest and its people. FSC developed them following a structured and transparent stakeholder engagement process. The process for Schweighofer to develop an action plan describing how it plans to meet FSC’s requirements was ongoing at the time of finalizing this report.

Maintaining our quality standards

One of the ways we protect the integrity of our system is through our quality assurance programme. By collaborating with Assurance Services International (ASI), we can maintain the high bar against which certification bodies are measured. This also helps to make sure FSC meets the high standards set by various bodies and authorities across the globe.

In 2018, the third annual assessment of ASI was carried out, and summary results were presented. In addition, FSC showed conformance against the ISEAL Assurance Code, by closing two minor non-conformities.

Meanwhile, an assurance risk registry and the second annual assurance risk management plan were developed. And the quarterly meetings coordinated by the ‘CB Trialogue’ are helping to support more regular and effective communication between the certification bodies.

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FSC suspends two certificate holders following investigation
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An update on controlled wood

Introduced into the FSC system in 1997 to meet the demand for FSC material in the marketplace, we continue to monitor the quality of controlled wood to make sure unacceptable sources do not enter the stream.

In 2018, a series of controlled wood case studies were compiled to provide a report on the current state of the market at the global level.

workshop on the development of a controlled wood strategy was also held. More than 70 participants from around the world attended. The outcome was a list of eight objectives, and 30+ actions to reach the desired future of all those present.


2018 saw the approval of 26 FSC risk assessments. This makes a total of 41 risk assessments approved since 2017, meaning we have approved nearly 70 per cent of all planned risk assessments.

Certification bodies from around the globe visited Bonn in October for a calibration session hosted by the controlled wood team. We discussed real and hypothetical situations and arrived at a better understanding of the realities in the field, and the best practices available.

Controlled wood risk assessments

Our risk assessments are used to determine the risk of an organization obtaining material from unacceptable wood sources when sourcing controlled material. 

These risk assessments are of two types:

  • National risk assessments (NRA), which are developed by network partners with locally established working groups
  • Centralized national risk assessments (CNRA), which are developed by FSC International directly, with or without the help of network partners.

We have worked hard to develop either an NRA or CNRA for 59 countries. Of these, 41 countries already have an approved FSC risk assessments, as of end of 2018. The remaining 18 countries are expected to be approved and published by end of June 2019.

eTraining platform is a big success

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Launched in 2014, FSC’s eTraining platform continues to support auditors and FSC certificate holders in understanding, applying and implementing FSC’s normative requirements. Courses on topics including the use of the trademark, forest management, chain of custody, controlled wood, and a general understanding of FSC, have been published in nine different languages. By the end of 2018 around 6,500 users had created an account.

2018 saw the launch of one new online training course, following the publication of the revised standard on the use of FSC’s Trademark FSC STD-50-001 V 2-0.

In early 2018, the controlled wood team created a Spanish translation of the English online learning course version on sourcing of controlled wood (FSC STD-40-005 V 3.1) that had been published in 2017. There is a version for auditors and another one for practitioners/certificate holders. By the end of 2018, the course in the different language versions had around 500 users for each target group.