WWF has assessed FSC’s current standard for the Congo Basin (FSC-STD-CB-01-2012-EN), confirming the robustness and overall positive performance of the scheme in the region.

WWF has released its Certification Assessment Tool (CAT)[1] for the FSC Congo Basin Forest Certification Standard, which evaluates the requirements of the FSC’s standard, and the rules and procedures that regulate how it is implemented, assessed, and governed.

The CAT is composed of two parts. Part one evaluates how the scheme operates, reviewing 80 criteria that are specific to its mission and governance, standard development, and requirements for certification and accreditation.

Part two of the CAT assesses the environmental and social requirements of the standard to ascertain whether it meets WWF’s conservation objectives in relation to eight fields: legality, tenure, and use rights; community relations; worker’s rights; water and soil; biodiversity; pollution, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions; planning and transparency; and other good practice in forestry.

The 2018 CAT suggests that FSC has the strongest system for this region, based on an assessment of all areas reviewed in the standard with excellent results registered in all five indicators: mission and governance, standard setting, certification, accreditation, and chain of custody.

The CAT recommends strengthening the criteria in a number of areas, which FSC is already working on.

  • Transparency – FSC is finalizing a geographic information system (GIS) platform that will provide a set of maps of FSC information, including FSC-certified forests, contributed voluntarily by our stakeholders. This technology will greatly improve FSC’s ability to provide information on certified forests worldwide to all stakeholders.
  • Management of agrochemicals – FSC considers that the CAT underestimates the already important restrictions that FSC applies to the use of agrochemicals. Nonetheless, FSC is currently conducting a revision of its pesticides policy to identify the best feasible approach to reducing their use in FSC-certified forests and to prevent, minimize, and mitigate their related environmental and social impacts.
  • Climate change – FSC has begun to take decisive steps to address the importance of forests in helping to mitigate climate change. In 2018 FSC launched an Ecosystem Services Procedure, which can be used to calculate the performance of an FSC-certified forest with regard to carbon storage and sequestration (among other ecosystem services). This way, foresters can make visible how they contribute with their forests to climate mitigation and how they adapt their management practices to increase that contribution.

“The results of the new CAT are very encouraging for FSC and we are proud to have obtained excellent overall results once again. But they also indicate areas where stakeholders would like to see us improve. We consider this review a very valuable tool to point us to areas where improvements would further strengthen FSC’s standing as the most trusted forest certification scheme,” commented FSC Director General Kim Carstensen. 

About the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. FSC was created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from well-managed forests, and sets standards by which forests are certified, offering credible verification to people who are buying wood and wood-based products. Currently 200 million hectares and over 35,000 businesses worldwide are certified to FSC standards. For more information visit www.fsc.org.

[1] Note: this CAT was commissioned by WWF and undertaken by independent consultants on WWF’s behalf. There are some subcriteria of the CAT where FSC’s understanding and the consultants’ understanding is not fully aligned, e.g. IA-38, IID-32, IID-34, IIE-46, IIF-52, IIF-56 and IIG-66. FSC is open to engage with WWF and others to clarify and resolve these different understandings.