COVID-19 has presented FSC with many challenges, the most important of which is to protect the health of certificate holders and auditors at the frontline of our work, while maintaining FSC’s mission to take care of the world’s forests.
Combining these two vital components – protection of staff and forests – with the willingness to support global measures to reduce the spread of the virus, has meant FSC has had to make difficult decisions quickly, primarily related to auditing of certified forests and chains of custody, and addressing supply chain constraints.
As a result, FSC issued several derogations and interpretations related to COVID-19. These derogations and interpretations have been published in a single volume, together with related frequently asked questions.
FSC Chief Policy Officer, Hans Joachim Droste, explained that while the challenges presented by the virus have been difficult, FSC’s choice on how to respond was simple.
“We could have chosen to carry on with business as usual, despite the fact that the virus had presented us with situations that – if ignored – meant we would have risked the health of certificate holders and auditors, and possibly certificates would have been suspended. Or we could build in some temporary flexibility mainly for companies producing and trading certified products – to be applied under strict conditions only – to be sure FSC continued with its mission to ensure forests are managed in an environmentally appropriate, socially responsible and economically viable manner. We chose the latter option, carefully balancing flexibility with credibility, because it is the right thing to do for all concerned,” said Droste.
“Our aim has been to balance the need for flexibility with maintaining the integrity of the certification system. To do this, we’ve set in place several pre-conditions under which the derogations must be applied. This means the derogations will be used in limited and exceptional circumstances, under stringent reporting requirements to FSC to monitor their application,” continued Droste.