FSC and the Sustainable Development Goals: Part 4

The final instalment of our UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) series outlines how FSC are contributing toward achieving Goals 15 – 17.

Gabon forest


Goal #15: Life on land

Forests cover around 30% of the Earth’s land surface and are home to more than 80% of terrestrial animals, plants, and insects. Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, including 70 million Indigenous Peoples. However, thirteen million hectares of forests are currently being lost every year, and the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares. Protecting forests is vital if we are to combat climate change and protect biodiversity and the homes of Indigenous Peoples.

FSC is contributing to securing life on land through promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. In order to become FSC certified, forest managers are required to prevent deforestation, avoid forest degradation, and conserve biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

FSC also supports the implementation of integrated landscape management policies – including reforestation and forest restoration programs. Applying the principles of FSC in these projects can encourage the creation of multi-functional forests, and certification can also enhance the economic potential of these projects.


Gabon elephants (© FSC International)© FSC InternationalGabon’s rainforest is home to unique wildlife, including the small and shy forest elephant. These elephants may be almost blind, but they make up for it by being extremely sensitive to unfamiliar noises or smells.

Human activity can have an impact on nature, so FSC recognises the importance of allowing wildlife and their forest habitat to recover. After logging in this forest, the harvested area is closed off for 25 years to regenerate. The area here was logged under the Compagnie Equatoriale des Bois (CEB) FSC certificate (FSC®C002359) a few years ago and it is obvious that the elephants have returned to the area.

Elephant populations in the Congo Basin have rapidly declined due to irresponsible logging and poaching. CEB’s priority is to keep the elephants’ habitat a secret, and part of their FSC forest management includes monitoring wildlife and signs of poaching and hunters.


SDG #16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions

Goal 16 is dedicated to creating peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, which would pave the way toward justice for all and for building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.

FSC considers the enforcement of relevant laws as the basis of sustainable forest management. This is reflected in Principle 1 and elaborated in specific requirements regarding legal rights to harvest and harvesting activities, environmental and social requirements, and customary rights.

FSC also focuses on free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) for local people and Indigenous Peoples. This means that logging must take place only with the full and informed consent of local communities before it begins. FSC expects its certified entities to establish more inclusive and better governed institutions for negotiations between local populations and logging companies, effective benefit-sharing mechanisms, and innovative ways to deal with problems related to infringements of customary uses.

Certification also requires forest managers to publicise a non-bribery commitment, including neither paying nor receiving bribes, and to take measures to ensure their non-involvement in corruption.


Gabon cacao (© FSC International)© FSC InternationalFSC certification requires that local communities benefit from the forest, so to FSC-certified forest owners or concession holders, the collaboration with local forest communities is essential.

The local community of the CEB concession in Gabon is made up of the Bakotas, a Bantu ethnic group who traditionally depended on the forest and its benefits. As part of CEB’s certification responsibilities, the community receives a percentage of the income from the forest and has access to schools, medical care, and employment in the forest or sawmill.

In one of the forest communities, the income from the FSC-certified activities was used to start a small plantation growing bananas, small coffee plants and cacao. The hope is that the plantation can eventually be a food source for the whole community and a source of extra income.


SDG #17: Partnerships for the goals

For a sustainable development agenda to succeed, governments, the private sector and civil society must collaborate and form inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national, and local level. These partnerships should be built upon a shared vision and shared goals with people and the planet at their core.

FSC is a democratic organisation that is governed by its members who belong to one of three chambers, environmental, social or economic, and these are further sub-divided into northern and southern sub-chambers. Voting is weighted to ensure that each chamber and sub-chamber gets an equal say. Interdependence between the chambers often leads to collaboration that can range from administrative connections, joint training and management activities and development projects supported by business.


© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231