The Forest Management Groups standard allows several forest management units to join together and form a group under one FSC certificate. This streamlines tasks, alleviates the administrative burden, can help reduce costs thanks to the economy of scale and is the main tool used in FSC certification of small forest properties.

The revised standard maintains the basics of the current version but presents the requirements in a simplified manner. Revisions include easier to understand language, information boxes providing clarifications, examples and a revised structure. Some terms found to be confusing have been clarified, and an effort has been made to explain the flexibility that the standard allows for. Ultimately, it is intended to empower the manager of the group, called Group Entity, to choose how best to manage its group by using the different options available in the standard.

New in this standard is incorporating a risk-based approach for the internal monitoring of the group, so that the intensity of monitoring is adapted based on the level of risk associated with the implementation of management activities in the forest. Forestry contractors can now also be included in the groups; a change requested by FSC stakeholders as well as FSC Members through Motion 46 at the 2017 General Assembly. The updated standard can be viewed in the Document Center here. The New Approaches team will support the roll-out of this standard starting in 2021 together with the National Offices of Spain and Portugal, with some focused webinars and training in the Iberian Peninsula, to be later replicated in Africa and other regions.

FSC would like to thank all members of the working group, Gabriel Bolton, Marie-Christine Flechard, Matti Maajärvi, Yadira Molina, Victoria Rizo, Conceição Santos Silva and Xiao Jianmin, for their dedication and commitment; the coordinator of the process, Rosario Galán, and the technical coordinator, Lauri Ilola, for their timely and good work. Despite a very challenging year, the working group and the FSC New Approaches team in charge of revising this standard succeeded in adapting to the changing conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The planned in-person meetings turned into numerous online calls, e-mail exchanges and a lot of goodwill, and the working group succeeded in finishing the revision as initially planned. The working group was bolstered by the overwhelmingly positive results of the second and final public consultation and is looking forward to the implementation of the revised standard. They have also developed some recommendations and suggestions for the revision of the Forest Management Evaluations standard, FSC-STD-20-007 to ensure alignment as the standards are linked.

For more information about the revised standard or the roll-out plan, please contact Rosario Galán, FSC New Approaches Manager, at r.galan@fsc.org.