Improving our ways of working

Improving our ways of working

Performance and standards

National standards update

In 2020, 19 new or revised national standards based on version 5 of the FSC Principles and Criteria were published.

Eleven national forest stewardship standards were developed by chamber-balanced standard development groups: Nepal, Ukraine, Viet Nam, Sweden, Indonesia, Japan, Cameroon, Lithuania, The Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and the Russian Federation.

Eight interim national standards were developed by a certification body, or a technical working group formed by certification bodies: Eswatini, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Belize, Guyana, Cambodia, Philippines, Suriname, and Croatia.

Forest Management Community

FSC has expanded the scope of the Forest Network, established in 2015 as an initiative of standard development group coordinators in the northern hemisphere, to cover a global scope.

The forum has been renamed Forest Management Community. Its' objective is to promote knowledge sharing, capacity building and continuous learning on forest management topics among its members and FSC, particularly on national standards. This aims to contribute to increasing efficiency, fostering innovation, and improving and strengthening FSC forest management certification. In 2020, monthly meetings were held for members, including a three-day virtual meeting.

Improving FSC rules to address conversion

In 2020, the working group developing the FSC Policy on Conversion reached a consensus on 11 out of 12 provisions in the final draft.

With a chamber-balanced representation, the working group developed and consulted on the second and third drafts of the policy which reaffirms FSC's commitment and efforts to end deforestation, and foster conservation and restoration.

The public consultation of the second draft of the policy involved 151 stakeholders from 38 countries, while the consultation on the third draft policy comprised 135 stakeholders from 43 countries, and 164 participants joined the seven webinars that were staged during the consultations.

Likewise, the technical working group tasked with the development of a remedy procedure to operationalize the FSC Policy on Conversion presented a first draft for stakeholder consultation. This procedure provides the requirements for environmental and social remedies and will be completed in 2021.

Progressing key forest management policies and standards

In 2020, the technical working group developing international generic indicators for the use and risk management of highly hazardous pesticides, required to fully implement the FSC Pesticides Policy, created a first draft for stakeholder consultation. It received feedback from 247 stakeholders from 33 countries.

The terms of reference to revise the Forest Management Evaluations Standard (FSC-STD-20-007) and associated addenda were approved. In this revision process, FSC will review and reconsider the fundamental approach of FSC towards forest management evaluations, including evaluation methods, intensity, frequency, duration, data gathering, reporting, the current structure of evaluation standards, and the incorporation of new technologies.

Guidance for Standard Developers to Develop a National Threshold for the Core Area of Intact Forest Landscapes within the Management Unit (FSC-GUI-60-004) was approved by the FSC Board of Directors and published.

Annual calendar of policy processes

PSU continues to publish a policy roadmap, an overview of ongoing and planned processes to develop and revise FSC’s normative documents. The annual plan also provides an overview of opportunities for members and stakeholders to engage in public stakeholder consultation processes. It is regularly updated and published together with the FSC Document Catalogue on the Document Center.

Assurance quality

The independent study implementing Motion 61/ 2017 (Certification Assessment Integrity and Credibility) was completed and shared with the membership in May 2020. Following presentation of recommendations to the Board of Directors in November, a prioritized set of integrity principles and actions have been employed as a result of the study.

FSC Standard for Project Certification is now effective

A new version of the FSC-STD-40-006 V2-0 FSC Standard for Project Certification came into effect in February 2020, containing a range of options for the certification of organizations of all sizes managing projects and a variety of examples of project types (e.g. a single wooden boat or a large complex of buildings).

Chain of custody project certificates are issued to the organization that manages the project. Depending on the certificate scope, it can be applied as a one-time certificate for a single project, or continuous project certification of multiple projects with one or more entities. There are now more options to make claims available to organizations, including full project, specific components, or percentage claims.

Supporting and encouraging smallholders

Revised Forest Management Group Standard published

The second version of the Forest Management Group Standard (FSC-STD-30-005) was completed and published, making the FSC normative framework accessible to more potential certificate holders such as smallholders. The revised standard maintains the basics of the previous version but presents the requirements in a simplified manner.

Revisions include easier-to-understand language, information boxes providing clarifications and examples. There are now streamlined requirements for small or low-intensity managed forests and communities, and risk-based approaches to adapt the internal monitoring to the type of operations being implemented. Forestry contractors can now be included in the group too, giving group entities better control over contractors.

Forestry contractors certification

With the approval of the revised Forest Management Group Standard, a group manager can now include forestry contractors into the forest management/chain of custody group certificates and allocate responsibilities directly to them, ensuring conformaity of their forest management activities on behalf of group members or the group manager. Contractors can also use the chain of custody system of the forest management/chain of custody group certificates, so they will be able to sell and pass on the FSC claim on any forest products they harvest and sell outside of the group certificate. The harvesting and sales of FSC-certified forest products is monitored by the group entity, which in turn is evaluated by certification bodies.

Smallholder access programme pilot test

The ongoing pilot test evaluates the impacts of allowing very small forest owners to benefit from a simplified approach to verifying their responsible forest stewardship activities. The test incorporates a set of critical indicators and rigorous internal and external auditing based on an analysis of the FSC Principles & Criteria and regional social, economic and environmental conditions. After reviewing inputs from first, second, and third-party assessments and audits, results in October 2020 indicated that this innovative approach was achieving its desired outcomes. The pilot test will continue until mid-2022 to include additional data and findings for replicating solutions to bring smallholders into the FSC system.

Asia Pacific regional standard for smallholders

A new regional standard in Asia Pacific for smallholders was conditionally approved by the FSC Policy and Standards Committee in December 2020. The work to close the twelve conditions and three recommendations is almost finalized. The committee, acknowledging the innovative character of this new policy solution, has also recommended to the Board to launch and roll out the standard in a controlled manner, using a medium-term pilot test, that will allow FSC to monitor the uptake.

Continuous Improvement Procedure

There are many applications of concepts of scale, intensity and risk and small or low intensity managed forests in the FSC normative framework. Despite this, for smallholders and communities, conformity with FSC requirements is still a great challenge, particularly in tropical countries. It involves a large investment compared to the economic benefit that FSC certification can offer.

To overcome these challenges, FSC has developed a continuous improvement procedure that allows its users to be certified based on conformity with only a subset of forest management requirements, offering flexible steps towards conformity with the remaining requirements within a defined timeframe.

The procedure gives the opportunity for smallholders and communities to become part of the global FSC community of certificate holders without having perfect responsible management in place. It is enough to have initiated and implemented crucial measures and to commit to continuing the path of sustainability by continuously improving forest management practices to ultimately conform with all requirements of the FSC standard within five years. It is also expected that the economic benefit of FSC certification will allow the user of the procedure to cover the required investment for responsible forest management and FSC certification during the first certification cycle. With the establishment of a technical working group in early 2020, by the end of year, the first draft was already delineated, and public consultation was expected in the first half of 2021.

Discover 2B Office: The first FSC-certified construction project based on the new standard

In Portugal, 2B Office became the world’s first construction project to achieve FSC project certification. This office and co-working space will showcase local FSC-certified products to develop awareness around the importance of forest certification.