Voluntary forest certification under the FSC scheme
WWF supports voluntary forest certification under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council® - individual license code of WWF-Russia FSC-N002777) scheme both globally and in Russia, as it helps prevent forest degradation and depletion of our planet's forest resources.
The FSC label on wood or on wooden products is an indication that they come from a forest where environmentally and socially responsible forestry is conducted. The FSC certificate is in demand in the most important environmentally sensitive international markets (European, North American, East Asian, etc.), so the demand for the FSC certification in Russia is high and continues to grow. For more than 10 years, Russia has been one of the world leaders in the FSC scheme, ranking second in the world after Canada in terms of FSC-certified forests. As of 29 August 2018, there were 238 combined certificates of forest management and chain of custody for the area of 47,65 million hectares available (more than a quarter of the total forest area leased for logging), and 724 companies were CoC certificate holders. The total volume of the annual production of certified products exceeds 50 million m3.
As of August 2018, FSC certified more than 200 million hectares of forests worldwide in 86 countries and issued more than 35,000 CoC certificates in 124 countries.
FSC is an international non-profit organization based on the membership system. Members may be legal entities and individuals representing economic, environmental, and social interests. There is no leading country or region for the FSC, the system is represented in all regions of the world and currently covers more than 120 countries.
FSC has established and is developing a voluntary forest certification scheme (FSC certification scheme) with its own standards, accredited independent certification bodies and its own trademarks. The FSC certification and accreditation standards and procedures are designed to meet the requirements of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) and ISO international standards. Each country has its own national FSC standard, 10 principles and the corresponding criteria being common.
FSC promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management in the world. For this reason, the whole system is based on the balance of three different groups of interests, i.e. environmental, economic and social, each group has its own chamber in the membership system, the chambers being absolutely equal. Any decision in the FSC is taken only if supported by a majority in each of the three chambers. National FSC structures, including those in Russia, follow the same principles. In particular, Russian national standard is developed with the mandatory participation of representatives of all stakeholder groups and approved only if approved by all three chambers.
The FSC main body is the General Assembly with currently more than 800 members. The FSC members from Russia are full members of the FSC, acting on an equal basis with the representatives of other countries. The current activity of the organization is governed by an International Board of Directors, and the activities are organized by the International FSC Center. Representatives of different countries are represented in both structures.
In our country, WWF-Russia in cooperation with FSC Russia is promoting certified forest products among consumers, which contributes to the formation of environmentally sensitive market of forest products. As a result, more and more people in Russia learn about the availability of forest certification and have the opportunity to make sure whether forest products they buy are legal.
WWF-Russia emphasizes that only a responsible, healthy, and economically prosperous forest business can simultaneously ensure high economic performance, and the conservation of environmental values of forests, and respect for the social interests of employees of their enterprises and the local communities. FSC certified companies have the opportunity to invest in the development of sustainable intensive forest management in secondary forests and thus contribute to the conservation of high conservation value forests (HCVF), including the most environmentally valuable, pristine forests, i.e. intact forest areas and landscapes (IFA and IFL).
WWF-Russia draws attention to the fact that compliance with the FSC requirements also ensures the conservation of biodiversity during logging, and that FSC is the most effective mechanism for the identification and conservation of HCVF, including IFA and IFL. In total, the FSC-certified companies in Russia have allotted more than 13.8 million hectares of HCVF, 7.5 million hectares being completely withdrawn from forest management. WWF-Russia cooperates with certified companies in terms of HCVF identification and conservation; almost 2.5 million hectares of HCVF are conserved within the framework of agreements between the companies and WWF-Russia. Website hcvf.ru developed by WWF-Russia is an officially recommended source of information on HCVF for certified companies. Due to the certification, it became possible to begin a dialogue with certified companies, environmental organizations, public and governmental authorities to identify and conserve the most valuable parts of intact forest – IFL cores. WWF-Russia has developed numerous guidelines that have become reference books for the certified companies and are being actively used by them to identify and conserve the most important biodiversity objects.
WWF-Russia also notes the special importance of the fact that the FSC certification system addresses social aspects, as WWF conserves forests taking into account their social role and interests of the local communities. The FSC certification is the most transparent of all forest certification schemes as all certification reports are publicly available in the online database; FSC provides the best opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in the certification process, including the local communities, public authorities, public associations, and has effective dispute resolution mechanisms.
WWF-Russia recognizes that the FSC system needs improvement, better compliance of companies' practices with the FSC principles and criteria. WWF-Russia is actively involved in improving the quality of FSC in Russia, cooperating with other environmental organizations, timber companies and social organizations in the national Standard Development Group for the development of the standard, FSC Russia Board, organizing field quality checks of biodiversity conservation practices and publishing their results. WWF-Russia calls on all the stakeholders to take part in improving the quality of the FSC certification in Russia, including active participation in consultations held by the certified companies with local communities and public organizations to identify particularly valuable forest areas to conserve them at logging.