The FSC has its roots firmly planted in the early days of global environmental awareness. Deforestation first became a mainstream concern during the 1980s, as developed countries became increasingly aware of the accelerating rate of loss of the world’s rainforests. The 30-year period between 1960 and 1990 saw one fifth of the world’s tropical rainforest destroyed, and public concern reached a peak towards the end of this era.
In 1990, a diverse group of various parties met in California to discuss the state of global deforestation. Buyers of timber, forest owners and environmental organisations all congregated, with a view to halting the destructive processes that were ravaging the world’s forests and connected environment. The group agreed that there was an urgent need for an overarching system to recognise properly managed forests, and to place an industrial focus on responsibly sourced wood. This meeting sparked the genesis of the concept and name of the Forestry Stewardship Council.
The United Nations Earth Summit in Rio was held in 1992, and although it did not yield any concrete legal commitments for forest management, it did generate the sustainable development action plan known as Agenda 21, which incorporated several forestry principles. This laid out a series of core principles for consideration that anticipated what would eventually become the FSC program.
The FSC was formally founded in 1993 in Toronto, Canada, after several countries promised support for a global forestry certification body. The FSC became a legally recognised entity in 1994 in Oaxaca, Mexico, and set about creating and implementing its certification process. It has since relocated its headquarters to Bonn in Germany.
More than 20,000 certificates have been issued by the FSC to date, including over 1000 awarded to forest managers and owners. It continues to grow and evolve based on input from its diverse membership, which is made up of stakeholders from several forestry related industries, along with environmental and conservation organisations.