The trouble with FSC
By: David Venables in Environment
Don’t get me wrong I do in principle support FSC certification for wood products. It has played an important role in helping demonstrate sustainability and through very effective marketing, given a strong message to consumers that we should support legitimate wood supplies.
The problem is that it has failed to fully address the very issue it was created to solve, that of tropical hardwood deforestation. While most softwood supplies and plantation wood fibre can now be sourced with a FSC certificate or similar scheme, only a relatively small amount of global hardwood is certified. Despite much effort, there is still very little certified tropical hardwood and FSC has yet to effectively adapt its standard to work cost effectively for small non-industrial landowners. But that does not mean that all these hardwoods are unsustainable. The hardwood forests of the USA are a case in point. 50 years of extensive data collection shows that growth has consistently exceeded harvest by 2 to 1, in my opinion the true measure of sustainability, but with small private forest ownership accounting for 73% of the total resource , FSC certification for US hardwoods is still the exception rather than the rule. No wonder the market is confused!
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