As 2011 is officially International Year of Forests, this is the first in a series of articles about trees. The Forest Stewardship Council was founded in 1993 as a non-government, not for profit organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the worlds forests. FSC is unique because of its balance in decision-making between economic, ecological or societal interests. All three sectors have the same influence on the decisions of the General Assembly that decides FSC policy and lays down the criteria.
Everybody who has an interest in responsible forest management can be an FSC member and influence the organisation’s development. The current membership includes forest owners, timber traders, trades unions, interest groups and representatives of local people. The FSC runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests. The FSC site has a registration process in which companies can sign up to their charter and gain certification. You can check whose signed up and, more importantly, who hasn’t by using the database of companies on their web pages. There are many more suppliers who stock FSC certified products who are not registered, so check for the symbol below on individual products. In short it means that when you purchase your supplies of timber at Homebase, loo-roll from The Co-Operative Group, printer paper from Wilkinsons, items from Argos, or cards from Hallmark, they should have a symbol on it which looks like this:
So you can be sure that it comes from sustainable and well-managed land.
There are companies which have not signed up to the FSC but still have a socially responsible policy when it comes to sourcing timber. B&Q only purchase responsibly resourced wood with a chain of custody, effectively meaning that every plank, post and fence panel can be traced back to the exact site of the tree it came from. So if you are planning on a bit of DIY this summer involving timber, take a look for the tick tree, or research the suppliers eco-policies first. You know it makes sense.