FSC 101: What is Forest Management Certification?

To support sustainable forestry, FSC runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management (FM) and Chain of Custody (CoC).

Forest Management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystem and benefits the lives of local people and workers, all while ensuring it sustains economic viability.

Maintaining Areas of Environmental and Social Value

Forest management certification helps protect the people and plant and animal species relying on the forest. To many Indigenous communities, the forest is integral to the provision of food and materials, as well as their traditional cultural identity. To meet the social criteria, certificate holders must respect Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and improve forest workers’ rights.


We also require forest managers to protect areas of high conservation value (HCVs). These may contain high concentration of plant or animal species; rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems; or areas of rare or outstanding biological, ecological, or social value.


Obtaining a Forest Management Certification

There are ten principles that any forest operation must adhere to before it can receive FSC forest management certification.

Our FSC’s FM standards are set through our three chambers of membership representing economic, social and environmental interests. Across the 112 countries we operate, these standards follow the same global principles and criteria set by FSC’s membership. All FSC country standards contain indicators set by local country based stakeholders representing the three chambers. FSC standards are therefore unique, both globally consistent and locally relevant.

To become certified, the organization must pass both an assessment and an in-depth review by an accredited certification body.

The brief initial pre-assessment aims to reveal any potential areas of non-conformity that could prevent certification. Afterwards, an in-depth review evaluates the organization’s forest management processes and their environmental, social, and economic impact. Depending on the number and scale of any non-conformities discovered, a certificate will be issued in the end, which is valid for five years and subject to annual checks to ensure FSC requirements are continuously met.

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See the infographic to learn at a glance.

For more details on how FSC certifications works, visit the FSC worldwide website at https://ic.fsc.org/en/what-is-fsc-certification.