New FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard of the Czech Republic

Tomáš Duda
Mixed forest Czechia
Tomáš Duda
November 23, 2023
Category : Standards

The standard becomes effective on 20 February 2024.

A new standard for forest management in the Czech Republic addresses the effects of climate change to make sure that the beautiful forests in this central part of Europe are healthy and resilient. The standard was developed by multiple stakeholders after seven years of work under the leadership of FSC Czech Republic.

Forests cover about one-third of the Czech Republic, a widespread ecosystem with a large number of different forest types. More than three-quarters of the forests are commercial.

Despite their prevalence, forests in the Czech Republic are not in good health and the climate emergency is having a significant negative impact on them. This makes responsible forest management all the more important and drove the impetus for the standard development group. The new Standard provides Czech forest owners with an effective tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The standard development group consisted of two representatives from each of the three FSC chambers: economic, social, and environmental. The balanced make-up of the standard development group ensured that each stakeholder group in the revision process carried the same decision-making weight. The revision included three stakeholder consultations and field testing to ensure applicability of the requirements. The final agreed version of the National Forest Stewardship Standard was then approved by members of FSC Czech Republic at its general assembly.

The new standard applies to essentially all forests, large and small, private and state-owned. The standard includes indicators to support FSC’s Principles and Criteria. The Principles and Criteria are the foundation of FSC certification schemes and cover a broad range of issues, from maintaining high conservation value to community relations and workers’ rights, as well as monitoring the environmental and social impacts of forest management.

Significantly, this standard goes beyond compliance of legal requirements, it sets a more rigorous benchmark, including more stringent criteria for various aspects of forestry practices, ensuring that certified entities exceed the baseline requirements mandated by prevailing regulations. Aligning with FSC’s commitment to fortify sustainable forest management and combating climate change through more diverse and resilient forests.

Other indicators address drainage and environmental resilience. For instance, no clear cutting can  be conducted during planned final felling, up to the distance of one stand height from the waterside along permanent watercourses and water reservoirs in riparian and adjacent stands. In addition, management can no longer use drainage to dry out the forest. The Standard emphasizes the need to leave older and decaying trees in the forest as important habitats and resources for biodiversity and asks managers to leave at least 5 of the most mature trees per hectare when harvesting older forest stands.

The potential positive impacts of the new FSC Forest Stewardship Standard for the forests in Czechia have been confirmed in independent research on forest certification systems by Mr. Jan Hošek, a biologist.

As Mr Hošek noted, “Due to the emphasis on non-clearcutting forest management, a higher proportion of broadleaved trees in regeneration, structural diversity and measures related to water management, the Czech FSC Standard has significant potential to absorb the effects of ongoing climate change.”

The new standard will ultimately benefit all of Czech society, because only healthy and resilient forests can provide the goods and services that society demands. These include renewable resources such as timber and energy as well as ecosystem services like clean water and flood protection. For the Czech people, who love the forest and spend much of their free time hiking, bicycling, picking mushrooms or simply walking, forests that are being taken care of with an eye to sustainability will be a delight well into the future.

For any queries on the standard, please contact Tomáš Duda, Director of FSC Czech Republic:

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

A translated (into Czech) version will be available on Visit FSC Czech Republic’s webpage in due course. Visit FSC Czech Republic’s newsfeed for more related news.