System integrity

Safeguarding the integrity, credibility, and transparency of the FSC system
FSC / Milan Reška

Integrity guides everything we do

We take pride in our standing as the world’s most trusted certification system. If anyone connected to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) violates our standards or is involved in destructive forestry activities, we take action.

Our rigorous investigation and reporting process includes the collaboration of accreditation partners, certification bodies, independent experts, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and others. It helps ensure that our standards are upheld, potential violations are thoroughly examined, and bad actors are excluded from the system.

Ensuring integrity from forest to consumer

Certification of forests and forest products is only valuable if it can be trusted. That’s why we’re committed to an open, transparent process for protecting the integrity of the FSC certification system.

Our policies and procedures for safeguarding integrity are concentrated in three key areas. 

Unacceptable practices

A unique feature of FSC is our Policy for Association. Under this policy, any organization connected with FSC must not engage in unacceptable practices, including:

  • Practices that lead to permanent deforestation
  • Destruction of high conservation value areas and species
  • Illegal logging
  • Human and traditional rights violations
  • Workers’ rights violations
  • Use of genetically modified organisms

This policy applies not only to our certificate holders but also to other organizations within their corporate group. It covers destructive practices that take place anywhere, even in forests that aren’t FSC certified.

See how new earth observation technology is helping FSC and its collaborators monitor forest activity.

Supply chain integrity

Businesses, consumers, and other organizations worldwide depend on the integrity of the FSC label. We lead initiatives around the globe to identify, eliminate, and prevent inaccurate and false claims made anywhere in the supply chain.

We do this through:

  • Independence and impartiality: Transparency is the foundation of FSC’s certification system. That’s why the independent certification bodies that provide and manage FSC’s forest management and chain of custody certificates have to be accredited by Assurance Services International (ASI), an independent third party.

Additionally, FSC is the only global forest certification system with an integrated accreditation programme that systematically checks its certification bodies. These certification bodies are accountable to strict guidelines to ensure their decisions are made impartially without regard to commercial, financial, or other pressures.

  • Integrity investigations: FSC works closely with ASI and certification bodies on investigations into high-risk supply chains of FSC-certified products. Through this process, FSC verifies that any claims made by certificate holders are accurate and match claims of their trading partners.

We’re pioneering new ways of using technology to verify claims made throughout the supply chain, including blockchain and wood identification techniques.

Trademark protection

Once a company receives certification, they are permitted to use the FSC trademark. There are three ways in which FSC protects its trademark:

  1. If a non-certificate holder is found to be using the FSC trademark, then a legal case of infringement may be initiated.
  2. If a certificate holder inadvertently uses the wrong trademark, then FSC makes a request for correcting this inaccurate use.
  3. If a certificate holder uses the FSC trademark on a product that is not FSC-certified, then an investigation of false claim is initiated.

Advancing the future of certification compliance

We’re using the latest technology to ensure compliance at every step of the supply chain.
Man using a smartphone / PeopleImages


We’re leveraging the power of blockchain to revolutionize materials traceability and trade compliance in high-risk supply chains.

Learn more →
Cross section of a piece of wood / duncan1890

Wood identification

We're piloting the application of cutting-edge wood identification technology to root out false claims and trace the origins of timber.

Learn more →
Satellite above the earth / janiecbros

Earth observation

We’re using satellite technology to help auditors monitor forest health and proactively detect threats.

Learn more →

How we manage and investigate allegations of destructive activities

We’re committed to addressing activities that violate our core values. We follow a rigorous process to manage and investigate allegations pertaining to our Policy for Association.


An allegation is identified by stakeholders or proactively by FSC

The allegation could be raised through ongoing proactive assessments made by FSC or by a complaint submitted by variety of stakeholders, including civil society organizations, concerned citizens, and others. FSC aims at further scaling up active identification of alleged violations and addressing them proactively.


FSC screens the allegation

Once FSC determines that the allegation is supported by adequate evidence, a Policy for Association case is opened. The case is assessed to determine the best way to move forward. This could include bringing concerned parties together to find a resolution, launching an investigation, or moving directly to a decision.


An investigation is conducted

We assign an independent investigation team made up of experts in the area of the alleged offense. We take investigations very seriously and ensure they are conducted thoroughly and fairly.


A decision is made

A decision is made by the FSC Policy for Association Decision Panel based on the final report by the investigation team. Any decisions on disassociation are also reviewed by the FSC International Board of Directors.


The outcome is finalized

Organizations involved in unacceptable activities have their certificates terminated and are excluded from participation in the FSC system.

Take a deeper dive into integrity cases

In an effort to be transparent and deter organizations from harming the integrity of FSC, we  share case updates about our investigations into high-risk supply chains and alleged violations of our Policy for Association.

See the status of all ongoing integrity cases
See more →

Restoration and remedy

Organizations that have been removed from the FSC system can work toward reinstatement—but only if they demonstrate real commitment to change.

Person handwatering small plant
iStock / Smederavac

Policy for Association violations: Our remedy and reform process requires organizations that have been removed from the FSC system for violating the Policy for Association to make amends for the harm they have caused and permanently change the way they work in the future.

Through extensive collaboration and consultation, a plan is formulated to remedy the harm caused and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 Supply chain integrity cases: FSC can block a company if it violates the certification standards. This blockage lasts for a specific period of time. If the blockage is to be lifted sooner, then the company has to perform corrective actions and pay a penalty fee.

Learn more

Need to report a concern?

We rely on our stakeholders to help us identify problems in the forest or in the supply chain.

We want to hear from you
If you believe that an organization connected to FSC is engaging in destructive activities or violating FSC standards or values, please let us know.
Report a concern →
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Forest Background

Become a forest steward

We all have a role to play in protecting the future of our forests. Learn how you can join the FSC
ecosystem and start making a difference today.