As global consumption of forest products continues to grow, responsibly-managed plantations certified by FSC can play a crucial role in ensuring their supply is sustainably sourced.
While plantations cannot replace the richness, stability and beauty of natural forests or the complexity of the services they provide, applying the FSC standards to them ensures their management is defined by transparency and fairness and minimises negative environmental and social effects.
Since 1994, FSC does not tolerate conversion of natural forests. Therefore, plantations from converted areas after that date cannot receive FSC certification.
This 1994 rule is important because this way we strive to maintain and improve the environmental, economic and social value of existing natural forests.
As with any other forest operations, certified plantations must comply with strict FSC requirements. Certified plantations have to respect a range of social indicators, including the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities, respect for indigenous peoples and workers’ rights, and safe working conditions.
Additionally, FSC-certified plantations are required to set aside areas of natural forests, either preserving or restoring them in degraded lands where afforestation took place. They are also required to identify and protect high conservation value areas, to ensure high water quality, and to protect the land along water courses.
In Brazil specifically, FSC-certified plantations have successfully carried out restoration projects or the reintroduction of endangered species in restored areas.
One of the most remarkable aspects of FSC certification is the requirement that the situation of the forest area be made absolutely clear with respect to:
- land tenure rights;
- its use by traditional populations; and
- the absence of conflicts that may threaten the physical integrity of individuals and forest resources.
Our national forest standards are developed through dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders – including indigenous groups, environmental NGOs and trade unions – to determine the most appropriate forest and plantation management methods for each country.
While FSC certification cannot remedy complex historical land-based conflicts, it does require that ownership, land use and tenure rights are clearly established. Companies must also negotiate and obtain prior agreement from communities affected by their activities, on the basis of a well-informed and fair process.