Changes to FSC Chain-of-Custody StandardsThe Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a not for profit, non-governmental organization that is dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. Its voluntary Forest Management and Chain-of-Custody Standards seek to provide a credible link from FSC Certified Forests through the manufacturing and distribution process to the marketplace.

Occasionally changes are made to these standards to make the system easier to navigate, respond to market conditions and stakeholder input. 

US FSC Group Chain-of-Custody Eligibility Requirements
The FSC Group Chain-of-Custody Certificate was designed to allow smaller forest products companies to join together to share certification costs and pool the resources of the group together to streamline the certification process. The goal was to make FSC Certification available to small-sized organizations that otherwise would not be able to participate.

Recent changes to the FSC Eligibility Requirements for Group Chain-of-Custody members in the U.S. include the following:

  1. Companies participating in the FSC Group Chain-of-Custody Program can have up to $5 million in annual sales of forest products. This was increased from $1,000,000.  This was a proactive move by the FSC's U.S. office in response to the global recession based on market research & a stakeholder working group.
  2. Additionally, companies that exceed the $5 million annual sales cap for two consecutive years lose their eligibility for participation in the FSC Group Certificate.
  3. FSC Group Chain-of-Custody Certificate participants in the United States also are no longer restricted to only 25 employees. There are no restrictions for the number of employees in the revised U.S. FSC Chain-of-Custody Group Eligibility Criteria.

FSC Chain-of-Custody Standard
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) released a new standard for Chain-of-Custody operations (FSC-STD-40-004 V2-1). All existing certificate holders must be in conformance with the new standard by October 1, 2012.

Improvements to the Chain-of-Custody Standard are as follows:

FSC Claims have been changed to be consistent with the new FSC On-Product Labels:

Existing Invoice Claim                   New Claim

FSC Pure                              →           FSC 100%

FSC Mixed xx%                 →           FSC Mix xx%

FSC Mixed Credit             →           FSC Mix Credit

New On-Product Labels
Changes to FSC Chain-of-Custody Standards


Commitment to FSC Values- Organizations  that are certified must demonstrate a commitment to the FSC values:

Unacceptable Activities
FSC will not associate with organizations that are directly or indirectly involved in the following unacceptable activities:

a) Illegal logging or the trade in illegal wood or forest products;

b) Violation of traditional and human rights in forestry operations;

c) Destruction of high conservation values in forestry operations;

d) Significant conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use;

e) Introduction of genetically modified organisms in forestry operations; and

f) Violation of any of the ILO Core Conventions.

Commitment to occupational health and safety- FSC Certified organizations must demonstrate a commitment to occupational health and safety.

New Product Classifications- FSC has revised its Product Classifications available in (STD-40-004a V2-0 EN) These changes are designed to improve the FSC Chain-of-Custody, provide cleaner labels for FSC Certified Products and increase participation in the FSC Program that will increase the amount of products available for consumers to buy in the marketplace. 

This rigorous certification process and continuous improvement ensures that FSC remains the gold standard of forest certification. 

Andrew Ramirez was hired as in intern in 2007 by Midwest Hardwood Corporation from the University of Minnesota’s Bio-Based Products Management and Marketing Program. Midwest Hardwood Corporation is a leader in producing FSC Certified Hardwood Lumber and has been continuously FSC Certified since 1995 (SW-COC-000008)

Andrew Ramirez is corporate sustainability coordinator of Midwest Hardwood Corporation based in Maple Grove, MN.

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