FSC Improves Safety, Planning and Biodiversity
A systematic analysis of all changes forest managers have had to make to obtain FSC certification of 18 Million hectares of forests in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, and the UK, shows that certification led to significant improvements to biodiversity conservation, management planning, health and safety, and the employment rights of forest workers.
The study analyzed 2,817 Corrective Action Requests which were raised by independent certifiers as forest managers sought to achieve and maintain FSC certification in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, and the UK. These Corrective Action Requests detailed shortcomings on environmental, social and economic issues and were the basis for WWF's systematic analysis of the nature of the improvements achieved on the ground through FSC.
“Our analysis provides conclusive evidence of the value of credible certification for a wide range of stakeholders across Europe,” said Duncan Pollard, Head of the WWF European Forest Programme.
“We simply looked at what actual changes FSC certification has brought in forest management, and the results speak for themselves. The study also brings out clearly the social and economic benefits which FSC brings for policy makers, governments, forest owners, forest industry, those employed in the forest industry and recreational forest users.”
In Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, and the UK biodiversity values were improved through measures such as: lower impact silviculture; improved protection of key habitats; increased deadwood levels; measures favouring species diversity; reduced soil compaction; improved water management and improved pollution control.
In all six countries FSC certification led to safer working conditions and enhanced worker skills, improved long term planning and strategies for minimising economic damage.
The FSC system provides a robust framework to guarantee compliance to a plethora of legislation, guidelines and best practice that sometimes were not enforced in practice. It was particularly effective in assisting the forest industry in new EU member states to implement the wide range of EU legislation and guidelines.
Through the need to implement wood-tracing systems FSC has improved the ability to prevent illegal logging.
FSC certification has also made forests in the surveyed countries a more interesting and safer place to visit through the conservation of sites of historical and cultural significance, complemented by better and safer public access.
“We hope that our study makes the added value of credible forest certification clearer to all and also demonstrates that FSC certification is not just good for the environment, but for business and society as well. It has the ability to deliver on a variety of policy priorities that the European Commission and EU Governments have committed to,” said Pollard.
“The conclusions from this study positions FSC certification as an invaluable investment for the present and the future management of Europe's forests.”
“This study confirms FSC as the international standard to promote responsible management of the world’s forests,” said Heiko Liedeker, FSC Executive Director.
“It shows tangible benefits from the FSC system in the social, environmental and economic areas in Europe. We know that the FSC system is delivering the same benefits in other continents and, without doubt, FSC has proved that it is a powerful and comprehensive driven system to promote responsible forest management worldwide."
• The findings for the UK which were incorporated into the summary report relied an earlier report released by the UK Forestry Commission based upon a study carried out by Simon Jeffreys, An Analysis of all Forest Management Certification Corrective Action Requests in the United Kingdom. Tilhill Forestry Ltd. January 2002 – an excerpt is available on www.panda.org/europe/forests
• This study is based on public summary reports describing the assessment of forest managers and companies certified according to FSC by a team of independent experts. It analyzed systematically the Corrective Action Requests (CARs) which needed to be addressed by forest managers and companies.
• Major Corrective Action Requests are fundamental failings that must be addressed prior to certification. Minor Corrective Action Requests are partial failings that do not prevent certification, but must be addressed within an agreed timescale. There is ongoing monitoring of the certified party with an annual surveillance audit over the term (5 years) of the certification, which allows to track progress. Each of the certifying bodies is obliged to publish a public summary of the main assessment and the annual surveillance audits of all certifications. These public summaries are freely accessible via the Internet.
• The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization founded in 1993 to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world‘s forests. FSC itself does not certify forest operations or manufacturers, but accredits certification bodies to carry out Forest Management (FM) or Chain of Custody (CoC) certifications.
For further information:
Helma Brandlmaier, Communications
WWF European Forest Programme
Tel: +43 676 84 2728 219