FSC is a robust certification scheme to complement timber due diligence according to a new study

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November 2, 2021
Category : General news

According to a recent study, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme is a robust tool to support Operators with European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) due diligence (DD) requirements . FSC certification is by far the broadest and most used scheme of all schemes that were analyzed.

The report, written by Preferred by Nature for the EU Commission, provides an overview of different forest-related certification schemes’ ability to support ‘operators’ in meeting their EUTR due diligence responsibilities. It re-emphasizes that using certification does not take away these responsibilities from operators, and that certification plays a key role to implement due diligence effectively.

At the same time, the report stresses that “The Competent Authorities should recognize that certification schemes are an important tool for Operators to assess and mitigate risks in their supply chain. This process has the potential for Operators to achieve a high level of confidence in their supply chain with minimal use of resources and effort. This is an optimal solution from a cost efficiency perspective."

Piled up logs
Aleksandar Radovanovic / Unsplash

The findings show that FSC certification covers 90% of the criteria assessed by the study, either fully or partially – scoring highly in areas of quality assurance, risk-based approach to sourcing, stakeholder consultation and transparency.  

The expert team from Preferred by Nature acknowledged the collaborative spirit of the FSC team in developing this study: “We are very grateful for FSC’s cooperation during the project. We appreciated the FSC team’s transparency, availability and quality of inputs."

The study highlighted specific areas that FSC certification could improve alignment or coverage of in relation to EUTR. These include further strengthening the traditional chain of custody model to better track FSC volumes up/down supply chains and legislation related to forest products trade and transport in the FSC controlled wood system. 

FSC acknowledges there are areas for improvement, and continuously strives to enhance certification requirements and system infrastructure to better align and support the enforcement of progressive environmental legislation such as the EUTR.

Some of the suggested improvements are already being worked on, for example;

Ukrainian students
FSC Ukraine 

In focus: Ukraine

In addition to system-wide improvements to better manage integrity risks, FSC is also taking specific actions in countries such as Ukraine, where the assurance system is threatened by failure.

Certification bodies in Ukraine have now agreed to perform stronger auditing that goes beyond what is required by FSC globally, due to the specific risks identified in Ukraine.

Identification of these integrity risks and suggestions on how to mitigate them have been developed by FSC Ukraine and incorporated into an innovative and cost-effective tool that is based on publicly available data. Note that this tool is different and more detailed than the Controlled Wood Risk Assessment for Ukraine.

FSC Ukraine has already successfully piloted this new approach to proactively trace 31 untrustworthy companies in the charcoal value chain who were infringing the FSC standards whose certificates were terminated and blocked as well as 11 certificate holders for breaching the “period of silence” thereby also being suspended.

As a multi-stakeholder platform born to work with different stakeholders, FSC will consider the findings of the study to further strengthen its certification scheme. FSC is also ready to cooperate and further support FSC certificate holders, EUTR competent authorities, the EU Commission, and civil society actors to implement sustainable forestry objectives across the EU.   

Access the Preferred by Nature report here


Questions and queries  

Ewa Hermanowicz, FSC’s Communication Manager, Europe & CIS: e.hermanowicz@fsc.org  

Matteo Mascolo, FSC’s EU Affairs & Engagement Manager: m.mascolo@fsc.org  


Photos: (Above) All timber imported to EU has to meet the EUTR requirements. Credit: Aleksandar Radovanovic/Unsplash

(Below – round) Pavlo Kravets, National Representative for Ukraine is explaining the FSC principles on forest conservation during a field workshop with certification bodies in the FSC-certified area of 'Boyarskaya Forest Experimental Station'. Credit: FSC Ukraine