What is an FSC product and what does it mean?

Written by

Emmanuelle Gammage

Posted on

April 14, 2021

Some of our products and much of our packaging is FSC certified. We thought that it would be useful to explore what FSC really is, how it helps the environment and what to look out for.

What does FSC stand for?

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, which is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 with a mission to create responsible forestry. It is the only forest verification scheme endorsed by leading environmental charities like WWF, the Woodland Trust and Greenpeace.

What is an FSC product?

Essentially, it’s a product or packaging which uses materials like wood, paper and / or other forest materials sourced from FSC-certified forests.

What does FSC-certified mean?

FSC-certified forests mean that the product adheres to the highest environmental and social standards. This means that:

  • The trees that are harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. Rare old-growth forest may not be touched.
  • Parts of the forest are entirely untouched to protect animals and plants.
  • It protects the rights of indigenous people, meaning that sacred sites are excluded from felling.
  • The forest owner must employ local workers and provide training, safety equipment and a fair salary.
  • Local rivers, lakes and wetlands must be protected.
  • The forest owner must support the local community.
  • The management of forests must protect water quality, prevent loss of natural forest and restrict the use of highly hazardous chemicals.
  • It prohibits the conversion of natural forest for plantations, real estate development or agriculture.
  • The forest businesses must be economically viable, meaning they are sufficiently profitable without generating profit at the expense of the forest, ecosystem and the local community.

In essence, a FSC certified forest means that the forest is managed in an environmentally friendly, socially beneficial and in an economically viable manner.

The FSC logo is an assurance that all the products are made with, or contain, forest-based materials from FSC-certified forests. This also means that the products won’t have harmed the forests, precious resources we need to protect. So far, more than 400 million hectares of forests have met the criteria, which is about 10% of the world’s working forests.

Forest 1440 x 1120

Why do we need the FSC?

Forests provide habitat for 80% of wildlife and plants and 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for shelter, their livelihoods, water, energy and food, and 750 million of those people actually live in them. They regulate our climate, clean the air, are sources for much of our drinking water and offer renewable energy sources. Put simply, life wouldn’t exist without them.

After oceans, forests are the planet’s largest store of carbon! They absorb and store almost 30% of our carbon emissions so they’re absolutely vital. However, 30 million acres of forest is lost each year (that’s an astonishing 26 football fields every minute) due to deforestation and illegal logging.

What causes deforestation?

Deforestation is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions and it’s caused by a number of things but the most prominent pressures are: agriculture, unsustainable forest management, illegal logging, climate change, mining, forest fires, conversion for other land use and infrastructure.

What is illegal logging?

This is a global trade of products like paper and furniture that originate from illegally extracted timber. Timber that is not regulated leaves gaping holes in forests and gravely damages the livelihood of local communities. According to the WWF, this happens because local communities have very little control over their forests, leaving them vulnerable and often causing them to be exploited.

In contrast to other materials, FSC-certified products protect local communities, conserve the world’s forests and prevent deforestation by putting a stop to illegal logging and unsustainable forest management.

Demanding this regulation not only guarantees ethical and sustainable practices, but ensures that forests remain forests. FSC-certified forests ensure economic benefit so landowners and farmers are less likely to turn to agriculture or sell it to developers. This means that the forests can continue keeping our planet alive and healthy.

Our role in this is simple – choose FSC-certified products to help the environment and protect the billions of people that rely on them.

Forest vertical 1440 x 1120

How can I be sure a product is FSC-certified?

According to Simon Counsell, Executive Director of Rainforest Foundation UK and one of the founders of FSC, the initial vision was to create an eco-labelling concept that would allow consumers to distinguish wood and paper products sourced in an sustainable and ethical manner.

So, look out for the logo! There are three different types of FSC labels:

  • 100% – all the forest-based timber or fibre comes from an FSC-certified forest.
  • FSC Mix – the timber or fibre is a mixture of some or all of: virgin timber / fibre from an FSC- certified forest, reclaimed or recycled timber / fibre or FSC controlled wood.
  • FSC Recycled – all timber or fibre must be pre-consumer or post-consumer reclaimed.

What is the FSC ‘chain of custody’?

In addition to their forest certification, there is also “a chain of custody”, which is a management system that marks the path of the entire supply chain, from the forest where the material is source to the point where the product is labelled and sold. This promotes a consumer connection and means you can be absolutely sure that the product is 100% FSC-certified, ensuring the process remains transparent, which is paramount in this day and age.

Do FSC-certified products cost more?

Although it depends on availability, the FSC say that their products will be a similar price to that of non-FSC items.

Forests have a crucial role to play and with the help of the FSC, they will continue to be protected and managed in a sustainable and ethical way. Be sure to look out for the FSC logo and choose FSC-certified products where possible, like our FireUp Natural Sustainable Firelighters.

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