FSC Interim National Standard of Austria Published

FSC UK/G.Hemery
Low-angle shot of a snow-covered forest
FSC UK/G.Hemery
November 22, 2022
Category : General news

The FSC Interim National Standard (INS) of Austria applies to all types of organizations working in natural forests and plantations in the country, including small and low intensity managed forests. The INS is also applicable to non-timber forest products (see section ¨A.2 Scope¨of the INS for more details).  The standard becomes effective on 01 March 2023.   

FSC certification is intended to ensure long-term positive effects for forests and to provide Austrian forest owners with better opportunities and advantages in international markets. Austria’s INS was adapted to the national context to reflect the diverse legal, social, and geographical conditions of its forests.  

This standard includes the possibility to have non-timber forest products (including Christmas trees) and ecosystem services certified. Forest owners are provided flexibility in achieving requirements of the standard, for example in meeting the 10% target for areas with special nature conservation functions. With numerous adapted indicators for small and low intensity managed forests (the threshold is 100 ha) and the possibility of group certification, the FSC standard offers a good basis for the certification of private forest ownership.

"The Austrian Forest Act already includes important requirements for contemporary forest management. FSC-certified forest owners go the extra mile in responsible management to ensure climate-friendly forests and responsible production. Only FSC-certified operations are also audited annually for conformance. The climate crisis in particular should provide an impetus for Austrian forests to receive the best possible solution. In addition, consumers are increasingly demanding FSC-certified products, and it is only through an increasing number of forest management certifications that the goal of offering sustainably managed forest products with short delivery routes can be achieved in this country.” - Julia Köberl, responsible for the Austrian market at FSC Germany

The process of modifying Austria's INS began in May 2019 and consisted of: 

  • the adaptation to version 5-2 of the FSC Principles and Criteria;   
  • the inclusion of indicators that protect the rights of workers, contributing to the livelihood and generation of income and local employment;     
  • as well as indicators for the protection of Environmental Values, Conservation Area Network and High Conservation Values.  

Standard with requirements for improved forest management

The standard and its requirements exceed the legal requirements in Austria in many areas.  Austria’s INS formulates requirements that must be met by forest managers for certification including a reduced use of pesticides, a ban on pesticides that are hazardous to health, the assessment of environmental impacts during management and addressing social concerns. The standard requires that 10% of the forest management area is to be designated for nature conservation measures, which can include set-aside areas as well as biotopes, areas outside regular operations and protected areas (e.g. Flora Fauna Habitat areas).  

Unique to FSC forest certification is that FSC certifies operations themselves providing more reliability for the certification quality and thus more assurance for trade and consumers. Another asset of this standard is that now ecosystem services certification is possible in Austria. Through such certification, special services of forest enterprises such as soil and water protection, biodiversity and carbon storage and recreational functions can be certified.

"We see great potential for the certification of ecosystem services in Austria. In view of climate change, the manifold ecosystem services provided by Austrian forest owners are steadily gaining in importance compared to the classic use of wood. While the latter will of course remain possible, forest owners can now document their contribution through independent certification and thus open up new sources of income. In view of the great challenges facing forest ownership, these additional options are becoming increasingly important." - Gerhard Kuske, Head of the Forestry Division, who was responsible for the development of the standard on behalf of GFA Certification.

Download the standard

For any queries on the standard, please contact the FSC working team responsible for the  Forest Stewardship Standards by email at: nationalstandards@fsc.org. 

The INS for Austria (English version only) can be consulted in the FSC Document Centre here.