FSC certification entails annual audits of forestry operations to ensure that they meet standards that protect forest biodiversity, ancient old-growth forests, water quality, and the well-being of workers and forest-dependent peoples. While far from perfect, FSC is the best available forest certification system. And its member-based governance system provides avenues for improvement.
FSC is divided into three chambers - an environmental chamber concerned with protecting forest ecosystems, a social equity chamber concerned with workers', communities' and indigenous peoples' rights, and an economic chamber concerned with the business of managing forests and producing and selling forest products. Each chamber has equal voting rights in electing members of the board of directors and ratifying major changes to FSC’s standards.
The Sierra Club is a member of FSC’s environmental chamber, where we advocate for the highest possible environmental protections. As an example of how we work to uphold FSC's rigor, in 2018 a major US wood flooring importer's FSC certificate was caught fraudulently selling flooring as FSC certified when it was not and had its certificate suspended as the result of a Sierra Club complaint.
You can support improved forest management by buying wood and paper products that carry the FSC label. To find FSC-certified products:
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) US Certification Standards -- Still Superior to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
When it comes to core environmental, social, and supply chain objectives, the independent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system remains superior to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the forest products industry’s competing certification system in North America.1 This is despite the FSC’s imperfections – and updates to the SFI Standards that go into effect in January, 2022.
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) United States Certification Standards
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Canadian Certification Standards
Sierra Club Activists Handbook
For advocates who want to understand the FSC rules for protecting forests in your state, see the Sierra Club Activists Handbook for FSC-certified State Forests.