Marcus Colchester

Marcus Colchester has recently joined the social chamber of FSC as an individual member, after being involved with debates about certified timber since the early 1990s when the idea of FSC was first being discussed.

Interviewing villagers in Sabah (2011) (© Marcus Colchester)© Marcus ColchesterMarcus attended FSC’s founding meeting in Toronto in 1993 and several other General Assemblies and, over the years, has been co-opted onto several FSC standard-setting working groups and think tanks. He is the founder and ex-Director of the international human rights organisation Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), where he is now Senior Policy Advisor. Currently he is acting as representative for the ‘Social Chamber North’ on FSC’s Sustainable Intensification Advisory Group which is preparing for FSC’s Sustainable Intensification Solutions Forum in June 2019.

Marcus, who is an Oxford University-trained zoologist and social anthropologist, has been working on the rights of forest peoples in Amazonia, Central Africa and South and Southeast Asia since the 1970s. He has published widely on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, land tenure, conservation and development policy and certification. His current work focuses on supporting forest peoples’ rights in Indonesia, where he has been working since the 1990s both through direct support for specific communities facing human rights abuses and through advocating for policy reforms at the national level and in international standard-setting.


'First they take the timber, then they take the land' (© Marcus Colchester)© Marcus ColchesterFPP has field programmes supporting forest peoples in 22 countries around the tropics. FPP lawyers and other staff directly support forest peoples suffering abuse of their rights through litigation in, and submissions to, national and international courts, tribunals and treaty bodies and various UN agencies. FPP has assisted Indigenous Peoples to make coordinated inputs to numerous international processes, including the World Conference on Environment and Development, TFAP, ITTO, GEF, World Bank, World Commission on Dams, the Extractive Industries Review, CBD, UNREDD and World Parks Congress. FPP is an active member of IUCN, International Land Coalition, Rights and Resources Initiative, Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, The Forests Dialogue, HCV Resources Network, High Carbon Stock Approach, Palm Oil Innovation Group and the Accountability Framework Initiative. It provides technical and standard-setting advice consistent with international human rights law to certification schemes, including FSC, RSPO, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials and the Aluminium Sustainability Initiative.

Looking ahead, FPP has ambitions to work with FSC to improve the implementation of its standards on land rights and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. It sees the need to radically improve the quality assurance and independence of auditors and certification bodies in order to uphold the credibility of FSC certificates and has been pushing for an overhaul of the FSC’s complaints system to make it accessible and responsive to forest peoples and to align it with the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights with respect to non-judicial remedy procedures.


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