FSC Ukraine continues to stand strong amidst challenges of the war

Bogomaz Conservation Photography / WWF Ukraine
After more than a year of war, FSC Ukraine is as resilient as Ukraine’s forests.
A young coniferous forest
Bogomaz Conservation Photography / WWF Ukraine
August 1, 2023
Category : General news

Russia’s invasion in February 2022 forced FSC Ukraine and other FSC actors to adapt and evolve.

“Our guiding principle is that we should find opportunities to act, rather than using the war as a reason to do nothing - with the number one priority to keep people safe” said Pavlo Kravets, Director of FSC Ukraine.

That included finding safer places to work, adapting to hybrid working at home and in the field, sourcing electricity at times and co-working spaces with internet access.

Yevhenii Khan working during air raid alarm / online map of air raid areas
Left: FSC / P Kravets, Right: FSC / Y Khan

(Yevhenii Khan working during air raid alarm / Online map of air raid alarm)

Oksana Pavlishchuk, forest management certification manager, says they quickly turned fear and worry into resilience and endurance.

“The new reality of the war required different organization of work processes and everyday issues, combining offline and online work,” she explained.

Adapting FSC requirements to support certificate holders

As soon as Russia invaded Ukraine, FSC agreed to adapt its framework to allow certification in Ukraine to continue in areas not affected by the war, allowing the country to continue to benefit from its standards.

Certificates in zones of armed conflict were suspended to protect foresters and auditors from life-threatening risks such as land mines. The remainder of Ukraine continues to maintain and protect its forests using FSC certification. In this way, people can undertake usual activities in areas where risks are mitigated to keep the country economically viable.

Risk-based audits, which are an FSC Ukraine initiative, have become part of FSC’s policy to establish the credibility of certificate holders and ensure the integrity of supply chains. These procedures, making use of public information and geographical information systems (GIS), are now part of the toolkit auditors in Ukraine can use to collect and assess data on forest management.

The risk-based approach is being promoted through training and seminars to become part of the formal procedures used by forest management and wood-processing companies. This project is expected to preserve environmental values, adapt the system to climate change, and prevent further degradation of forest ecosystems.

Forest Strategy in Ukraine

The FSC Global Strategy 2021–2026 sets out priorities that are especially relevant in Ukraine, where the state policy on sustainable forest management is currently working to integrate FSC’s National Forest Stewardship Standard not only in forest management but also in legislation and government decision-making.

Viktor Smal, acting Head of the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine which oversees forest management units of ‘Forest of Ukraine’ said "We are grateful for the support of our efforts to obtain the certified status by our branches. We hope that the application of FSC tools will continue to help us maintain responsible forest management and integrate into the EU". 

The strong roots of FSC in Ukraine are the foundation of sustainable forest management and will enhance reforestation once the recovery begins. Pavlo Kravets said, “There is a clear recognition that FSC certification can act as a catalyst for the green and circular economies that will transform sustainability, as foreseen in the Lugano Declaration of the Recovery Plan for Ukraine."

A preference for renewable and responsibly produced resources, based on FSC certification, will improve the environment, increase public trust and give businesses a competitive advantage.

Continuing to provide value during difficult times

FSC-certified companies are utilizing the value of certification to access European markets and continue selling products outside of Ukraine. FSC opens doors to clients who care for sustainable sourcing and thus keeps their economy viable in times of economic crisis (you can read about this here ‘Ukrainian women entrepreneurs in wood industry call for more trade partners from the EU market').

Natalia Pokinska, Managing Director of Kronospan Ukraine LLC, highlighted that it is vital to persuade companies that stopped doing business in or with Ukraine to re-evaluate their decisions. "We are doing things in the best possible way, and we set a due diligence system that identifies all threats and takes them into account’', she says. "We are confident that foreign clients can work with Ukraine and buy our products - it will help our economy”.

A visit to Ukraine by Lieske van Santen, Director of the Global Network and a member of FSC International leadership, helped stakeholders, including public officers, to appreciate the significance of FSC certification in Ukraine. For example, individual local branches, rather than the state enterprise or regional offices, hold certificates, reducing the risk of non-compliance with FSC National Forest Stewardship Standards. Another recent visit by Frank Harnischfeger, the Chief Operations Officer of FSC International, was a clear indication of the support for certificate holders who want to remain a part of the global responsible business.

FSC brings Ukraine closer to the EU

Ukraine’s forestry sector is seeking tighter ties with Europe in the future. FSC’s tools to increase transparency and openness will be fundamental to this desire for greater European integration, ensuring zero tolerance for corruption and improving traceability in supply chains.

Responsible forest management will play a crucial role in sustainable economic growth in Ukraine once the war is over. To that end, the focus will continue to be on bringing stakeholders together jointly to develop forest policy and ensuring its appropriate implementation, which will occur in the context of a multilateral discussion platform.

Pavlo Kravets says, "FSC is bringing us closer to the European Union. It is a catalyst for the integration of the forest sector. It is a unique chance to bring more FSC values to the country to push our forest sector closer to Europe.’'

The Recovery Plan for Ukraine foresees fundamental changes, including attitude shifts towards the environment and the rights and freedoms of citizens. FSC’s values supports these processes, uniting civil society in forest conservation and ensuring responsible forestry that will provide for the needs of present and future generations.

Pavlo Kravets, FSC Ukraine Director, is optimistic: “I remain convinced that justice will prevail and that together we can overcome incredible obstacles.”

Pavlo Kravets of FSC Ukraine working in a metro station during air raid
FSC / Y Khan

(Pavlo Kravets working in the metro station during air raid alarm)

If you would like to learn more about why and how FSC works on the ground in a country at war, then this newest podcast episode of Forest for the Future is for you! You can hear from the FSC team on the ground and from two of our certificate holders in Ukraine: Pavlo Kravets, Director of Forest Stewardship Council Ukraine, Yevhenii Khan, Chain of Custody and integrity manager at FSC Ukraine, Victoria Kuchmuk, Manager of Zunami LLC - an FSC-certified working company producing oak floors and Natalia Pokinska, Managing Director at Kronospan UA LLC – the largest wood-based panels-producing company in the country.

🎙Find the podcast at one of these links🎙




Google Podcasts



A new report by Forest Europe also describes the challenges to sustainable forest management in Ukraine along with a few recommendations to help the country rebuild its forestry sector. You can find the report here