Our History

An innovative idea takes root

Britain's native woodland (© Forestry Commission GB)© Forestry Commission GBConcerned about accelerating deforestation, environmental degradation and social exclusion, a group of timber users, traders and representatives of environmental and human rights organisations met in California in 1990. This diverse group highlighted the need for a system that could credibly identify well-managed forests as the sources of responsibly produced wood products.

The concept of FSC and the name were coined at this meeting.


It was another two years before the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Earth Summit produced no legally binding commitments on forest management, but it did result in Agenda 21 and the non-legally binding Forest Principles. Crucially, it also provided a forum for many non-governmental organisations to come together and gather support for the innovative idea of a non-governmental, independent and international forest certification scheme.

Following intensive consultations in ten countries to build support for the idea of a worldwide certification system, the FSC Founding Assembly was held in Toronto, Canada in 1993.

The FSC Secretariat opened in Oaxaca, Mexico and FSC was established as a legal entity in Mexico in February 1994. The FSC Secretariat relocated to Bonn, Germany in 2003.

Since its inception, FSC has gone from strength to strength. The number of certificates issued in both forest management and chain of custody have increased exponentially, passing a total of 20,000 Chain of Custody certificates in 2011, and a further total of 30,000 in 2016. The 1,000th Forest Management certificate was also issued in 2011 to a Portuguese small farmers’ association covering their cork plantations. There are now over 1400 Forest Management certificates.

The short film below shows the WWF Director of Corporate Relations discussing the birth of the Forest Stewardship Council...

FSC General Assembly 1996 (© FSC I.C.)© FSC I.C.FSC General Assembly 1996

Members at the General Assembly (© FSC A.C)© FSC A.CMembers at the General Assembly

FSC General Assembly 2014 (© FSC IC)© FSC ICFSC General Assembly 2014

Timeline: 20 years of FSC UKTimeline: 20 years of FSC UK

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231