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Understanding the FSC Certification Process

Post on 22nd August 2023

Find out how understanding the FSC certification process can help protect the worlds forests and ensure sustainability for generations.

When searching for eco-friendly and sustainable products like fence panels, gates, and furniture, you’ve come across the term FSC Certified. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organisation that sets standards to ensure that forestry is practised in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner.?

If you’re wondering what goes behind an FSC certification and how you can trust that the fence panels or furniture you’re buying are sustainable, this insight aims to clarify the FSC certification process.

Two Types of FSC Certification

Forest Management Certification

This certification is aimed directly at forest owners and managers. To receive FSC Forest Management Certification, forest operations must meet 10 FSC Principles and associated criteria that cover a range of social, environmental, and economic aspects. These principles range from compliance with laws and international treaties to community relations, workers’ rights, and environmental impact assessments.

When a forest is certified, it is managed sustainably, following best practices to preserve biological diversity, benefit surrounding communities, and minimise environmental impacts. The timber and other forest products harvested from such areas become eligible for FSC certification and labelling.

Chain of Custody Certification

Now, what happens after the timber leaves the forest? That’s where Chain of Custody Certification comes into play. This certification is for manufacturers, processors, and sellers of forest products. It ensures that FSC-certified material is identified or separated from non-certified or non-controlled material throughout the supply chain.

For a finished product like a fence panel, gate, or piece of furniture to be labelled as FSC Certified, it must have passed through a “chain of custody” from an FSC-certified forest, through an FSC-certified company and finally to an FSC-certified retailer.

The Role of Independent FSC-accredited Certification Bodies

You might wonder, “Who verifies if all these criteria are met?” This is where independent FSC-accredited Certification Bodies come in. These are third-party organisations that FSC has accredited to carry out assessments and audits of forest management and chain of custody operations.

Here’s a simplified outline of the certification process;

  1. Application: The company or forest manager applies an FSC-accredited Certification Body.
  2. Initial Review: The Certification Body conducts an initial review to assess if the applicant can meet FSC standards.
  3. Field Audits: On-site audits are conducted to verify compliance. This includes interviewing workers, checking records, and doing field inspections.
  4. Certification: The Certification Body issues an FSC certificate if compliance is verified.
  5. Ongoing Audits: Regular monitoring is conducted to ensure ongoing compliance.

Relevance to Your Purchase of FSC Certified Fence Panels, Gates, and Furniture

When you buy FSC-certified products like fence panels, gates, and furniture, you can be assured that you support responsible forest management practices. You’re contributing to a chain of environmental stewardship that impacts forests and communities that depend on them.

By choosing FSC-certified products, you can be confident that the wood used in your fence panel or garden furniture is independently verified to meet rigorous, globally recognised sustainability standards.

So, the next time you see the FSC label on the fence panel or gate you’re about to purchase, you’ll know exactly the stringent standards and comprehensive processes behind that certification. You’re not just buying a product; you’re making an ethical choice for a sustainable future.

How to Verify if a Product is FSC Certified

Consumers today increasingly know the need for sustainable and responsibly sourced products. If you want to purchase FSC-certified fence panels, gates, or furniture, you want to ensure the certification is genuine. Here are some ways to verify if a product is genuinely FSC-certified;

Look for the FSC Logo

The most straightforward way to identify an FSC-certified product is to look for the FSC logo on the product or its packaging. The logo is a checkmark and tree design that is universally recognised. Alongside the logo, you will also typically find a license code that can be used to trace the product back to its certified source.

Read Product Descriptions

When shopping online, read product descriptions carefully. Reputable retailers selling FSC-certified products will often provide detailed information, including the type of FSC certification (Forest Management, Chain of Custody, or both) and the associated license code.