Following an extensive discursive and consultative process, involving FSC members, public consultations, surveys, and two global meetings, the FSC controlled wood strategy was approved on 30 April 2019.
At the FSC General Assembly 2011 a motion was passed to strengthen the controlled wood system, leading to a revision of the requirements for sourcing controlled wood. The latest version of the standard became effective in July 2016. Company risk assessments are being phased out and replaced with national risk assessments conducted by or on behalf of FSC, a process which is due to be completed by the end of 2019.
But the controlled wood system and the inclusion of uncertified virgin material in FSC Mix products has been heavily criticised. In light of this controversy, the FSC International Board of Directors determined that guidance on the future of controlled wood in the FSC system - a controlled wood strategy - needed to be developed, to allow FSC members to provide clear guidance on the future of controlled wood.
“It is no secret that the environmental chamber in FSC has had very strong concerns about controlled wood. For me, the controlled wood strategy now changes the discussion from how we can fight controlled wood to how we can increase full FSC certification, and for me that is exactly the right approach to increasing the credibility and impact of FSC.”
- Mauro Armelin, FSC Member (Environmental South) and member of the FSC Board Strategic Planning Committee (BSPC)
Increasing positive impacts on forests and changes to the FSC Mix label
The new strategy outlines a vision and overall aim for the future of FSC Mix and the controlled wood used in its production. The overarching goal, aligned with the FSC Global Strategic Plan, is to increase the area of FSC-certified forests, leading to a decrease in reliance on controlled wood. Effective implementation of the controlled wood system is also cited as a means of increasing positive impacts on uncertified forests.
During the revision of the FSC trademark standard for certificate holders, FSC sought to reformulate the text within the FSC Mix label, ‘from responsible sources’, but this decision was postponed until the controlled wood strategy was approved. The strategy confirms the commitment, stated in the trademark standard, to revise the label text within one year after approval of the FSC controlled wood strategy. However, it should be noted that the transition period for moving to the new FSC Mix label has not yet been defined.
“I really like the way the controlled wood strategy challenges FSC to work on improving forest management in uncertified forests while also taking part in the discussion on global issues related to forests. Doing this will increase the relevance of FSC and also be a potential way to increase the area of FSC-certified forests, which is the first core objective of the strategy.”
- Alan Thorne, FSC Member (Economic North) and BSPC Member
1. More certified forests.
We have increased the area of certified forest across all forest types. We also have mechanisms to reduce reliance on non-certified material over time.
2. Continuous improvement, assurance and decisions through data.
We have strengthened supply chain integrity and credibility through the adoption of appropriate technologies and systems to deliver transparency, traceability and assurance of FSC products and claims.
As a data-driven organisation, we collect verifiable data for understanding and impact monitoring impact through time. The data is shared and used to inform decision making, and to report to stakeholders.
3. Impact on non-certified areas.
We influence non-certified forests by collaborating with governments and other decision makers. We work in partnership and strategic alliances with like-minded organisations to scale up our impact.
4. Improved communication.
We communicate transparently, truthfully and comprehensively about controlled wood, mixing, FSC Mix, and FSC 100% to achieve truth in labelling.
1. Certification toolbox
2. Streamlined requirements
3. Regional relevance
4. Value from sustainable forest management
The core objectives have actions associated with them in the strategy document, while the enabling objectives are part of other, existing workflows in FSC, and therefore do not have actions in the document.
The next step in the strategy process is to develop the implementation plan to turn the actions in the controlled wood strategy from ideas to reality. The group responsible for developing the implementation plan will include members of the FSC secretariat, network partners, and board of directors’ members, and will be working on developing the plan in the coming months. All parts of the implementation plan will be aligned with the Global Strategic Plan and other ongoing work in FSC.
“FSC is an organisation of dialogue and compromise across the very different interests of our members, and the controlled wood strategy is a great example of how compromise can create benefits for all three chambers in the organisation. No one got everything they wanted out of the process, but we all got something important and useful.”
- Rulita Wijayaningdyah, FSC Member (Social South) and BSPC Chairperson
Controlled wood – what and why?
The main goal of introducing controlled wood into the FSC system was to meet the demand for FSC material in the marketplace, while still avoiding unacceptable sources. Controlled wood is material which has been assessed using the relevant FSC standards and found to be at a low risk of coming from unacceptable sources (e.g. having been illegally logged). FSC Mix products can contain timber or fibre categorised as controlled wood in addition to material from FSC-certified forests and/or recycled sources.
FSC Mix products
FSC Mix products produced under the FSC ‘percentage system’ must contain a minimum of 70% FSC-certified wood/fibre and/or eligible recycled input, the balance must be controlled wood and/or pre-consumer material (for wood products). For paper products, both pre-consumer and post-consumer reclaimed materials count as valid ‘FSC’ inputs. If the product is produced under the FSC ‘credit system’, there is no minimum FSC/eligible reclaimed input, however, only a proportion of products (relative to the FSC/eligible reclaimed input) can be labelled and/or promoted as FSC certified.