What is the FSC?

FSC LogoThe Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products. This offers customers around the world the ability to choose products from socially and environmentally responsible forestry.

FSC promotes socially and environmentally responsible forest management world wide through standard setting, accreditation of certifiers and trademark assurance.

Together these activities ensure that the final product bearing the FSC logo can be traced through the production process and is a guarantee to customers that the product comes from responsible sources. You can visit the FSC website at www.FSC.org


Chain of custody (CoC) certification

Once a forest is certified it is important to be able to trace the products that come from it throughout the supply chain to ensure that any claims on the origin of the product are credible and verifiable.

The FSC chain of custody certification is a voluntary process. FSC chain of custody is a tracking system that allows manufacturers and traders to demonstrate that timber comes from a forest that is responsibly managed in accordance with the FSC Principles and Criteria. It tracks the flow of certified wood through the supply chain and across borders through each successive stage - including processing, transformation and manufacturing - all the way to the final product. It is up to a company to initiate the certification process by requesting the services of an independent certification body to inspect its internal tracking procedures.

Only FSC-accredited certification bodies can evaluate, monitor and certify companies to FSC standards.

All operations that want to produce an FSC certified product or want to make corresponding sales claims must comply with FSC’s international standards for chain of custody. An operation must specify the range of products they wish to sell as FSC certified and promote with the FSC trademark. The certification body inspects the operation to ensure that controls are in place to identify eligible sources for the specified product range and to prevent certified and recycled material from mixing with material from unacceptable sources. If an operation complies with FSC standards, the company is issued an FSC chain of custody certificate. Major failure to comply with the standard will normally disqualify the candidate from certification or lead to de-certification.

FSC Lumber

5 Steps towards FSC Certification

FSC does not issue certificates itself. The certification process is carried out by independent organizations called certification bodies. These certification bodies assess forest management and chain of custody operations against FSC standards. Only FSC accredited certification bodies are authorized to issue FSC certificates.

  1. Contact one or several FSC accredited certification bodies. To give you a first estimate regarding cost and time needed the certification body will need some basic information about your operation. The certification body will provide you with information about the requirements for FSC certification.
  2. You decide which certification body you would like to work with and sign an agreementwith the certification body.
  3. A certification audit takes place to assess your company’s qualifications for certification.
  4. The data collected at the audit is the basis of the audit report based on which the certification body makes the certification decision.
  5. If the certification decision is positive, you receive a FSC certificate. If the audit revealed that your operation is not yet in full compliance with FSC requirements, then you can go for further audits after you have implemented the changes suggested in the certification report.

FSC certificates are valid for five years. The FSC accredited certification body will conduct annual surveillance audits to verify your continued compliance with FSC certification requirements.

These steps are the same independent on whether you want to become forest management or chain of custody certified.