Forests occupy a special niche in the heart of those who love the outdoors. In addition to their beauty and recreational value, forests play a critical role in the health of global ecosystems. Forests provide an important habitat for wildlife, promote clean water, prevent soil erosion and mitigate the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Forests also provide materials that are used in many everyday products. In addition to wood and paper, many other materials—including natural rubber and man-made cellulosic fibers such as lyocell and modal (used to make apparel and textile-based products)—also come from forests.
Forests that are managed responsibly can, in theory, provide these materials indefinitely. If the rate of harvesting these materials does not exceed the rate at which the forest can regenerate, and harvesting is done in a way that allows forests to continue to play their role in ecosystem health, then forests can be a reliable and sustainable source of raw materials.
Certifications exist to promote the responsible management of forests. Different certifying organizations take distinct approaches to promoting responsible forestry practices. One of the global leaders in responsible forestry is the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC.
What Does FSC Certification Mean?
This environmental and social certification comes from the FSC, a global organization that certifies forests based on rigorous standards of responsible forest management. Certifications include “FSC 100%,” “FSC Recycled” and “FSC Mix” (which can be a blend of FSC-certified, recycled and controlled sources). FSC certification applies to wood and wood-based products and covers a broad range of topics, including environmental stewardship, legal and regulatory compliance, social and economic well-being of workers, indigenous people’s rights, and social and economic well-being of communities. You can find the FSC logo on both a product and its packaging.
One key aspect of FSC certification is tracking the “chain of custody” for a product: ensuring that the materials taken from sustainably managed forests reach you in the form of the final product without other materials getting accidentally mixed into the process.