Sanitary Logging

FSC does not oppose sanitary logging if done legally. This practice becomes illegal when companies obtain a permit via illegal means or conduct sanitary logging in violation of legislations. 
FSC sanitary logging

However, this practice becomes illegal when companies obtain a permit via illegal means or conduct sanitary logging in violation of legislations.  

Sanitary logging is an important forest management practice to maintain forests in good health. It is a regular operation that maintains the value of the forest by removing weak or infected trees. Salvage logging on the other hand, is an emergency operation to remove heavily damaged or dead trees after windfall, fire, or pest outbreak.  

In many cases, it is important to cut down infected, damaged or dead trees or all trees if the stand’s resilience is lost and to recover the forest ability to provide countless benefits to humans, the environment and wildlife. Sanitary logging may prevent the diseases or pests from spreading to nearby healthy trees and also reduce the threat of future forest fires.  

If done legally, FSC does not oppose sanitary logging. However, it becomes illegal when companies obtain a permit through illegal methods or conduct this practice in violation of legislations. Examples of these infringements include logging broader areas than defined in the permit, logging healthy trees, or having authorities issue a permit without good reason.  


FSC’s priority is to prevent risks of illegal sanitary logging in FSC-certified forests.   

FSC does not accept illegal logging or illegal timber trade in its system, and it takes strong action against certificate holders that do not comply with the FSC approach to responsible forest management regarding sanitary logging. Any illegal activity can lead to the suspension and termination of certificates.   

The very first principle of FSC’s Principles and Criteria requires that businesses comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements. Therefore, FSC certificate holders must operate in accordance with the laws.  

FSC is continuously developing measures to combat this illegal sanitary logging, for example by:   

  • Working with certification bodies to strengthen the control over the sanitary logging processes;  
  • Initiating efforts with the Federal Forestry Agency to make the information about sanitary wood more transparent;  
  • Leading studies to understand the scope of the problems and addressing them through revising FSC standards and processes.