To complement its already strict rules on illegal timber, FSC has a Policy for Association that strictly forbids any associated organization to be involved in unacceptable activities.
The Policy for Association specifically declares that FSC will only associate with organizations that are not directly or indirectly involved in the following unacceptable activities:
- Illegal logging or the trade in illegal wood or forest products;
- Violation of traditional and human rights in forestry operations;
- Destruction of high conservation values in forestry operations;
- Significant conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use;
- Introduction of genetically modified organisms in forestry operations; or
- Violation of any of the ILO Core Conventions (as defined in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work).
Evaluating adherence to this policy is a key concern of FSC, and suspected reported violators of the FSC Policy for Association trigger exhaustive investigations. FSC encourages any stakeholder, be it an organization or an individual, to file a formal complaint against an organization or individual that is suspected of being involved in any of the unacceptable activities, as mentioned above, via its dispute submission form.
In 2013 FSC refined its forest management, chain of custody, and controlled wood standards to meet the requirements of legislation against trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products, such as European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), the US Lacey Act and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act. In this way, FSC certification can help as evidence of compliance with these laws. Both in the European Union and Australia, FSC is in ongoing dialogue with government officials on the value and reliability of FSC certification.
More recently, a number of Asian countries have developed their own anti-illegal timber trade legislation. In particular, the FSC certificate is recognised, explicitly or implicitly, as valid evidence of legality in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam.
Therefore, by purchasing products with an FSC claim and/or tree logo, consumers know that they are purchasing forest products that have been legally obtained from companies that practice responsible harvesting, take into account social benefits for local communities and adhere to important environmental safeguards.