Clear-cutting

FSC is aware and understands the public concern that any forest destruction can cause and the sensitivity around key forestry practices such as clear-cutting. 
FSC clear cuts

Clear-cutting is a forestry practice common to the type of forests found in the boreal forest biome (Alaska, Canada, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries).   

As a starting point, it is important to underline that Principle 9 of the FSC Principles and Criteria specifically require that businesses maintain and/or enhance the high conservation values (HCV) present in a specific management unit. This principle – a cornerstone of the FSC certification scheme – also applies for forests where clear cuts are used.  

In the standards  

The FSC national standards in some countries include specific guidelines, set within robust criteria, to minimize their environmental impact. The national standard for Sweden, for example, includes specific guidelines to minimize the environmental impact of clear-cutting. Key practices that forest managers must follow when using clear-cutting include:  

  • Reforesting 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.  
  • Retaining individual trees or tree groups during harvesting, while setting a goal for retention (for example: achieve ten eternity trees (trees not to be harvested) per hectare during the next forest generation.  
  • Exempting at least five per cent of their productive forest land from management, in addition to trees left as nature consideration, during clear-cutting.  

 

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.  

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.