New FSC forest stewardship standard for French Guiana

Guillaume Dahringer
Logs in forest
Guillaume Dahringer
September 5, 2023
Category : Standards

After several years of discussions and consultation with local stakeholders led by FSC France, a Forest Stewardship Standard for French Guiana's forests has been published and comes into force 5 September 2023. This standard will support the efforts of local stakeholders to preserve the exceptional biodiversity of their forests, as well as protect the rights of traditional people and develop their economy and business opportunities.

French Guiana is one of the five overseas departments of France, on the northern coast of South America. Its forests cover some 8 million hectares and host exceptional biological diversity: more than 7,000 plant species, 180 endemics, and 83 protected plant species. Some habitats can contain over 300 tree species per hectare.

About a third of the forest (2.4 million hectares) is currently being managed, producing 80,000 m3 of logs per year. Forestry is French Guiana's third largest economic sector and is one of the main strategic sectors for the territory's sustainable development.

The economic, environmental and social stakes are very high: local development and employment, remarkable biodiversity and protected areas, the impact of gold mining, the rights of traditional people (Amerindian and Bushinengue), tourism, ecosystem services and others.

That is why, in 2018, FSC France and stakeholders in French Guiana committed to developing a specific Forest Stewardship Standard to facilitate the certification of Guyanese forests. This followed initial discussions that started almost a decade earlier. The Standard Development Group met regularly between 2018 and 2022 to discuss the indicators, resulting in the final standard adapted to local issues.

The process included a public consultation in 2019 and a test in the forest to verify the applicability of the indicators in the field. A second public consultation took place in 2020, and after an evaluation by FSC International, the draft standard was approved and is coming into force on 05 December 2023).

The main objectives of this standard are to provide independent evidence of the quality of forest management and to continue improving practices on key issues such as the conservation of intact forest landscapes, the rights of local and traditional communities, and minimize the impact of gold mining in certified areas. Certification of forests in French Guiana, through the standard, will help to preserve their exceptional biodiversity and will also help local stakeholders, including Amerindian and Bushinengue people, to develop and benefit from forest management. Companies in the Guyanese timber industry will be able to use the standard to respond to local and international markets that require certification. The standard also sets clear and strict rules to exclude from the certified area gold mining sites that are not compatible with long-term responsible management of the forest.

To prepare for the roll-out of certification, FSC France held discussions with harvesting operators, sawmills and a startup in the emerging green chemistry sector, which extracts relevant substances from wood chips to produce natural pesticides and other products, to develop Chain of Custody certification. Several local and European traders, as well as architects, have already expressed a clear interest in developing a supply of FSC-certified Guyanese products.

FSC France will therefore continue to work closely with stakeholders in French Guiana, offering information, training and connections to markets, in order to support them to make the most of the many benefits FSC certification can offer.

If you have any questions about this standard, please contact Guillaume Dahringer, Technical Director of FSC France:   

The FSS for French Guiana (English version) can be consulted in the FSC Document Centre.

A translated (into French) version will be available on FSC France website in due course. Visit FSC France’s webpage for more related news.