FSC Standards

Setting the bar for responsible forestry

Protecting forests starts with rigorous standards

As the pioneer of forest certification, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sets the standard for responsible forest stewardship. Our policies unify a diverse set of stakeholders around common guidelines for forestry that are:

  • environmentally appropriate
  • socially beneficial
  • economically viable.

Our open and transparent standards include safeguards to ensure that stakeholders throughout the forest supply chain live up to the principles that protect healthy and resilient forests for all, forever.


Worker standing in a forest
FSC  / Bablu Singh

The 10 FSC principles

FSC’s 10 principles are the foundation of our forestry standard.

Developed to be relevant to different kinds of forest ecosystems and in diverse cultural, political, and legal settings, they require any managers of certified forests to:

  • comply with all applicable laws;
  • maintain or improve the social and economic well-being of workers;
  • uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • maintain or improve the social and economic well-being of local communities;
  • manage their products and services in a way that maintains or improves their long-term economic viability, social benefits, and environmental benefits;
  • maintain, conserve, and/or restore the ecosystem services and environmental values of managed forests; and also avoid, repair, or mitigate negative environmental impacts;
  • establish a management plan that outlines their economic, environmental, and social policies and objectives;
  • demonstrate progress toward meeting these objectives;
  • maintain or improve high conservation values;
  • ensure that all management activities comply with FSC principles and criteria.

Complete descriptions of these principles and the criteria that determine whether the principles are being followed can be found here.

Integrity is deeply ingrained

We’re the most trusted forest certification system for a reason. If anyone connected to FSC is involved in destructive forestry activities, we take action.

We conduct thorough investigations
See how we manage and investigate allegations of activities that violate our standards, policies, and values.
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FSC standards in action

See the role responsible forestry plays in western Oregon.

Salmon streams

In areas of western Oregon around salmon-bearing streams, FSC standards require conservation of areas that are more than double the width of those usually required for private landowners. These buffers help protect both threatened and endangered salmon, along with drinking water for people downstream.

Harvested areas

While state legislation in Oregon allows clear cutting in areas up to 120 acres (48.6 hectares) in size, FSC limits these openings to an average of 40 acres (16.2 hectares).

Dangerous chemicals

People and wildlife benefit from FSC standards which include restrictions on the use of dangerous chemicals such as atrazine. This chemical is commonly used in the United States but has been linked to birth defects in humans.

The Cascade torrent salamander

As a species of concern in this area, this salamander receives protection within FSC-certified forests, even though there is not legislative requirement for protection in Oregon. Hopefully this will help the species thrive and not need legal protection in the future. 

Carbon storage

Peer-reviewed research has shown that FSC practices in western Oregon’s and Washington’s Douglas fir forests remove and store at least 30% more carbon from the air on average than other forests the practices that are common within other forests. 1

Learn the fundamentals of our standards

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Documentation on all FSC standards, policies, and procedures is available in our Document Centre.

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Find out more about the standards related to forest management certification.

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Find out more about the standard to get to chain of custody certified.

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Watch our standards grow

There’s a place where you can see all the FSC standards, policies, and procedures currently being created or revised. We’re committed to making the process comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive.

Follow the processes
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Our growth depends on your input

FSC standards are continually evaluated and, when appropriate, revised. The process happens through the input and collaboration of a wide variety of stakeholders. Want to be one of them? Here are three ways to participate:
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Sign up for the FSC newsletter

The newsletter will keep you informed of any standard documents being developed and calls to join a working group.

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Contribute to a public consultation

When changes to key standards and policies are being considered, we often invite public comment. By visiting our Consultation Platform, you can see and contribute to all consultations open for discussion.

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Become an FSC member

FSC is governed by a global network of more than 1,000 organizations and individuals representing environmental, social, and economic perspectives. Our members collaborate to develop solutions that create healthy, resilient forests worldwide.

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FSC / Milan Reška

Forestry standards that are fair for everyone

We’re committed to making responsible forestry attainable by all. Our standards are locally adapted to address the on-the-ground realities of different regions.

We also have solutions that make it easier for community- and family-managed forests to become FSC certified.

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Get the latest news

Our standards are changing and growing, helping to improve how FSC helps protect forests around the world. Stay up to date on the latest development for our standards and policy work.

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Forest Background

Become a forest steward

We all have a role to play in protecting the future of our forests. Learn how you can join the FSC
ecosystem and start making a difference today.

1. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/9/8/447