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Thursday, 14 February 2019
A stable foundation for forest management certification

FSC is seeking your views on its international Principles and Criteria – the foundation of the FSC system.


We’ve talked before about the importance of FSC’s Principles and Criteria and what they mean in the UK context (see the July/August 2018 edition of Forest Matters). They are absolutely fundamental to the FSC system; they set out the detail of FSC’s vision for responsible forest management, and are the basis for national forest stewardship standards all around the world.

What are the Principles and Criteria?

FSC’s international Principles and Criteria set out our vision of forest management that is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. They are intended to be applicable to all types of forest throughout the world, and so must be interpreted locally in national forest stewardship standards. The 70 Criteria (and associated national indicators) provide the means of judging whether or not the ten Principles have been fulfilled. In outline, the Principles relate to:

Principle 1: Compliance with Laws
Principle 2: Workers’ Rights and Employment Conditions
Principle 3: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Principle 4: Community Relations
Principle 5: Benefits from the Forest
Principle 6: Environmental Values and Impacts
Principle 7: Management Planning
Principle 8: Monitoring and Assessment
Principle 9: High Conservation Values
Principle 10: Implementation of Management Activities

You can read more and download the full Principles and Criteria on the FSC International website.

As with all other elements of our certification system, the Principles and Criteria are subject to periodic review and, if necessary, revision. FSC has recently carried out a review of the Principles and Criteria and wants to hear your thoughts on its conclusions.

The review report concludes that the Principles and Criteria should remain unchanged until all national standards have transferred to the most recent version (V5-2), arguing that it is important to preserve the stability of the FSC normative framework.

What does this mean for the UK?

While some countries are still in the process of transferring to the current version of the Principles and Criteria, the UK is one of a number of countries whose national forest stewardship standard is already based on V5-2 (FSC-STD-GBR-03-2017 – more familiar to most forest managers as UKWAS 4 – which became effective on 1 April 2018). Any changes to the Principles and Criteria would affect the next iteration of the UK standard.

“As a national office, we are inclined to agree with the findings of the review report,” says FSC UK Forest Standards Manager Dr Owen Davies. “Version 5-2 of the Principles and Criteria has proved to be a robust basis for our national forest stewardship standard, and we agree that it is important to learn lessons from the current cohort of national standards before we consider changes to the international framework. The Principles and Criteria genuinely are the bedrock of the FSC system, and we believe that it’s important right now to maintain a stable foundation for our forest management certification.

“That said, we appreciate that FSC members and other stakeholders in the UK may take a different view, and we would encourage everyone – whether they agree or disagree with the review report findings – to respond to the consultation and make those views known.”

Visit the FSC UK newsroom for more information and a link to the consultation platform. The public consultation is open until 6 March 2019.


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