KEEPING THINGS GREEN: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
By Alan Rogers
THE Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non- governmental, not-for-profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
In the wake of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 1992 (Rio Summit), concerned business representatives, social groups and environmental organisations got together and established the FSC in 1993. Its purpose is to improve forest management worldwide.
What began as not much more than an innovative idea has turned into the leading model for environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest stewardship. Today, FSC is the only internationally recognised standard setting organisation for responsible forest management supported by the corporate sector as well as environmental organisations and social groups. It is also the pioneer forum where the global consensus on responsible forest management convenes and through democratic process effects solutions to the pressures facing the world’s forests and forest-dependent communities.
As a multi-stakeholder organisation, FSC applies the directive of its membership to develop forest management and chain of custody standards, deliver trademark assurance and provide accreditation services to a global network of committed businesses, organisations and communities.
FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.
FSC is nationally represented in more than 50 countries around the world.
Globally, it aims to deliver on four major priorities:
1. It aims to continue to provide the leadership required to expand responsible forest management into other non-timber areas such as climate change and biofuels;
2. It aims to become a more accessible and more attractivesolution for forest managers in the tropics, such as Malaysia, whilst making the benefits of FSC certification more evenly across the timber industry;
3. To continue to ensure the highest standards of integrity, credibility and transparency in the FSC system, and deliver this through more and better monitoring and evaluation systems; and
4. To improve product data management and anticipating market trends, focusing on developing FSC in southern markets.
What is FSC certification?
FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that supports responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certified forest products are verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain. The FSC label ensures that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources.
The FSC Principles and Criteria (P&C) describe how forests can be managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. Developed through a strong, multi- stakeholder process, they include managerial aspects as well as environmental and social requirements.
FSC certification provides a mechanism for companies, organisations, and communities to demonstrate their commitment to the FSC Principles and Criteria for responsible forest management and be part of the FSC solution.
FSC in Malaysia
The Malaysian Nature Society, together with other NGOs, has been working towards making FSC certification more easily accessible to the timber industry in Malaysia for over 10 years. MNS is a member of the FSC, and actively promotes the FSC as the desired standard for forest certification throughout Malaysia.
LOOK FOR THIS: The FSC label on a product tells the buyer the materials used have come from a sustainable forest operation somewhere in the world. We should support those who strive to keep that forest area sustainably managed.
The benefits of producing and using certified forest products are many, and Malaysia should not be left out. Malaysians should buy Malaysian first, because we are Malaysians. We should also buy certified forest products over those that are non-certified, because we care about our forests.
Last October, the multi- stakeholder Malaysian organisation working towardsbecoming the official FSC National Initiative, formed a partnership with HSBC Malaysia to develop national standards for certifying natural forests in Malaysia, creating the roadmap to bringing FSC certification to MalaysiaFor the first time, the FSC General Assembly will be held in Malaysia, in Kota Kinabalu from June 26 to July 1. FSC members and interested parties from all over the world will convene to discuss sustainable forest management.