FSC’s new approach for risk assessments in forests

FSC / Milan Reška
Wide angle shot of green trees with snowy mountains in the back
FSC / Milan Reška
January 12, 2024
Category : Standards

In a fast-changing world the Forest Stewardship Council is fundamentally changing its risk evaluations for forests. The next generation of risk assessments will replace the current way of assessing risks in forestry as part of the current controlled wood concept. In an enhanced approach the new risk assessments will be of use for the production of FSC Mix products within the current controlled wood concept; but will also serve as a tool for risk evaluation in regards to new legal requirements such as the EUDR. These new risk assessments will therefore become an invaluable tool for companies to efficiently assess and mitigate risks. 

While doing so, FSC is going one step further by aiming for an alliance between partners facing similar challenges. This Risk Information Alliance will foster global sustainability leadership by collaborating with other sustainability leaders. The focus is on developing a single, standardized Risk Assessment framework that will benefit both certified and non-certified companies.  

The establishment of the Risk Information Alliance marks a transformative step for FSC, positioning it as a global leader in sustainability practices. The collaborative approach, streamlined processes, and standardized framework demonstrate a commitment to efficient risk assessment and mitigation, ultimately contributing to the preservation and responsible management of global forests. 

Why the Risk Information Alliance? 

Long-term solution to support companies to comply with EUDR and other emerging regulations  

Establishing risk assessments to be used for various commodities will dramatically reduce effort needed by companies for due diligence practices. Risk Assessments from the Risk Information Alliance will be a key tool for supporting EUDR compliance, as both certified and non-certified companies will be able use them for implementing strong due diligence practices by showcasing risk assessment and mitigation for competent authorities. This development builds on the risk assessment work already in motion as part of FSC EUDR Aligned

Streamlined Requirements Development and Decision Making 

The Risk Information Alliance aims to streamline the development of requirements and decision-making processes. By collaborating with other sustainability leaders, FSC can draw on collective expertise, ensuring that the Risk Assessment approach is comprehensive and aligned with global best practices. 

Maintaining Leadership in Multi-stakeholder Discussions 

Through collaboration, FSC intends to maintain its leadership role in multi-stakeholder discussions. By actively engaging with other sustainability leaders, FSC can influence and shape global policies and practices related to risk assessment and mitigation. 

Establishing Leadership in Risk Assessments Beyond FSC 

The alliance positions FSC as a leader not only within its own certification scheme but also in the broader field of risk assessment and mitigation. This leadership extends beyond FSC, contributing to the development of sustainable practices across various industries. 

Addressing Time Constraints and Capacity Challenges 

The partnership allows FSC to address time constraints and capacity challenges by diversifying the processes involved in risk assessment. This reduces dependency on FSC alone, enabling a more efficient and timely completion of risk assessments. 

Strengthening Risk Assessment Requirements Based on Shared Best Practices 

The alliance facilitates the sharing of FSC values, such as the assessment of High Conservation Value (HCV) protection and the exclusion of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with other sustainability schemes. This collaborative approach enhances the overall effectiveness of risk assessment requirements. 

Learn more about changes in FSC Risk Assessments 

The new approach for FSC Risk Assessments will be applicable to Forest Management and Chain of Custody, including Controlled Wood, aligning with EUDR requirements. The changes and proposals for the risk assessments will be published for public consultation from February 1, 2024 – March 1 2024. The Risk Assessments are one element among others to comply with the EUDR through FSC EUDR Aligned, and specifically the FSC Regulatory Module which forms part of it.  

Webinar on FSC Regulatory Module, systemic changes and FSC Risk Assessments 

Webinar on FSC Risk Assessments   

To learn more about the future of FSC Risk Assessments check out the summary here.

The new Risk Assessment framework introduces several significant changes, differentiating it from the current system: 

Looking Ahead 

FSC plans to expedite the development and maintenance of Risk Assessments, especially in response to the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). The goal is to update existing Risk Assessments quickly and efficiently through the Risk Assessment Alliance, ensuring compliance and sustainability. 

**Today:** FSC has 60 Risk Assessments based on current framework.

**June 2024:** FSC EUDR Aligned includes an enhanced Risk Assessment Framework that companies can use for EUDR compliance 

**July 2024 – March 2024:** Updating/Maintaining 20 Risk Assessments which are EUDR Aligned. 

**March 2024 – Onwards:** Development and maintenance of remaining FSC Risk Assessments.