The criteria for FSC certification are necessarily strict. Each certificate is aimed at a different demographic, and the requirements are of course specific to the certificate.
For the Forest Management Certificate, forest managers and owners need to demonstrate that their forest management process meets the following criteria:
1. They need to create, implement and to document their management plan.
2. They are expected to incorporate the rights and needs of indigenous peoples affected by the forest – this includes the economic impact of forestry activity on their lives, and conservation of any sites of special cultural or religious significance.
3. Managers are expected to thoroughly evaluate the overall environmental and social impacts of all activities in the forest, and to assess these on an ongoing basis. They’re also expected to uphold the conservation of forests which are deemed to have high conservation value.
To begin the certification process, the forest manager approaches an independent FSC-accredited certification body. The certification body will usually carry out a short pre-assessment, to highlight areas in which the management needs to make changes in order to meet the certification requirements. And once the forest manager has adjusted their forest management operation accordingly, they can then apply for the full assessment.
To pass the Chain of Custody (CoS) certification process, your business is going to need to be able to prove its’ wood is sourced responsibly from forests, which means your chosen FSC certification body will follow an audited trail by looking at your processing and distribution procedures. This means that your products will have been fully verified before they are sold to end-users, who’ll in turn be able to buy your products and services safe in the knowledge they were ethically sourced.
Steps Toward FSC Certification
Your business will be required to follow these steps to achieve certification:
1. Find an accreditor and verify that you qualify for the scheme
2. Decide which certification body is best for you and sign an agreement with them
3. Complete a certification audit
4. Await the outcome of the award
5. If successful, your business will be awarded certification.
Please note your FSC certification will be valid for five years, after which a follow-up audit will be needed.