This forestry practice is common to the type of forests found in the boreal forest biome. The FSC national standards for Sweden and Russia include specific guidelines, set within robust criteria, to minimise their environmental impact.
For example, in Sweden forest managers are required to reforest all forest land after regeneration felling, unless nature conservancy agreements or authority decisions state otherwise. In addition, they must only apply methods that result in reliable and rapid reforestation in accordance with the Swedish Forest Act.
The Swedish Forestry Act also states that individual trees or tree groups shall be retained during harvesting. Priority is given to trees of natural or cultural value. Both FSC and the Swedish Forestry Act require tree retention during harvest, but only FSC sets a goal for retention: to achieve ten eternity trees (trees not to be harvested) per hectare during the next forest generation. In addition, FSC demands that all biodiversity value trees shall be retained. These may be included among the ten eternity trees.
The FSC standard in Sweden also requires that forest owners exempt at least five per cent of their productive forest land from management, in addition to trees left as nature consideration, during clear-cutting. Areas of importance for biodiversity and based on landscape representativeness are given priority to become conservation areas.
Furthermore, the FSC forest management standard for Sweden identifies high conservation value forests that include areas for protection, as well as managed forest with lower conservation values, where management can take place only if the identified values are protected.
In practice, this means clearly limiting those areas identified as particularly valuable for regeneration felling. Valuable habitats are shown in the forest management plan and are accurately identified before logging. Harvesters then have clear indications, through maps, of where they can and cannot intervene, therefore sparing valuable habitats.
In Russia, FSC certification is the only scheme that considers protection of intact forest landscapes. FSC-certified companies in Russia have allotted more than 13.8 million hectares of high conservation value (HCV) forests, out of which 7.5 million hectares have been completely withdrawn from forest management using the FSC standard as the basis for their work.
WWF-Russia works with FSC-certified companies to identify HCV forests and areas most critical for conservation and almost 2.5 million hectares of HCV forests are preserved within the framework of agreements between the companies and WWF-Russia. 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.
With current consumption trends, forest derived products – such as timber for building and paper – or finished products, such as furniture, are increasingly in high demand. Sustainably managing the potential of forests is necessary to ensure not just the production of viable, ethical products but also an important source of carbon retention to help combat climate change. Responsible forest management, including controlled clear cutting of certain boreal forests, as embodied by the FSC standards, is necessary to ensure a more sustainable planet.