What is FSC? A Brief Insight into Forest Stewardship Council History, Purpose, and Structure

what is fsc

If you are someone who’s familiar with recent environment issues, you may have heard of FSC before. Otherwise, you may wonder ‘what is FSC’? The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global, nonprofit, and multi-stakeholder organization that was founded in 1993. It promotes earth’s forests liable management. With more than 25 years of experience, it is safe to say this organization is a pioneer in the field of forest certification. FSC encourages sustainable and responsible forest management by bringing the experts from various disciplines, such as environmental, social, and economic.

What is FSC?

FSC is International certification for legal verification for world forest and wood products. Here is things you need to know about FSC

History of FSC

Before you dive deeper into what is FSC and what it does, you may want to know the story behind its establishment first. In the early 1990s, the United Nations (UN)’s Food and Agriculture Organization stated that half of the whole forests on earth have been degraded, destroyed, altered, or modified into other types of land uses. The remaining half was suffering from poor management and illegal exploitation. This is the base issue that drove establishment of FSC – an organization that’s created as response to the concern upon worldwide deforestation.

The initial General Assembly of FSC gathered in Toronto, Canada, in the year of 1993. The purpose of this organization was set out to establish market-based and deliberate global forest practices improvement, as alternative to forest products boycotts – an effort that were proven to be counter-productive.

In 1994, it was decided that the organization would be based in the forest area of Oaxaca, Mexico. However, in 2003, the secretariat office was moved to Boon, Germany. In the United States, FCS was established in 1995 with the main headquarter located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As of now, FSC operates in over 80 nations that have forests and has approximately 850 members, which include:

  • Global NGOs, such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Oxfam Novib
  • Nationwide NGOs that mostly focuses on environmental and conservation issues, such as Wildlife Conservation Society in US and Ornithological Society in Spain
  • Research organizations that focus on forestry issues, such as Forestry Science and Research Institute in Brazil
  • Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that focuses on community development such as Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) in US and Foundation for People and Community Development (FPCD) in Papua New Guinea
  • Private companies in the industries of timber, forestry, and paper, such as IKEA in Sweden, Sun Wood Industries in Thailand, and Mondi in South Africa
  • Certification organization such as Wood Certification Ltd and Forest Eco Certification in India
  • Workers’ associations and trade unions, such as Swedish Forest and Wood Trade Union


To know ‘what is FSC’ focuses in, you need to understand the purpose of this organization. The general mission of FSC is to promote global forest management in environmentally appropriate, economically viable and socially beneficial ways. There are five goals in the global strategy:

  • To develop responsible management of forest globally
  • To create commercial value for products produced by forests with FSC certification
  • To secure fair access to the FSC systems’ benefits
  • To secure FSC systems’ transparency, credibility, and integrity
  • To tighten global networks to deliver the above goals

The goals above are developed, managed, and encouraged through program in six different areas: forests, ecosystem services, quality assurance, social policy, custody chain, and monitoring and evaluation. In both direct and indirect was the organization addresses various issues such as deforestation, illegal logging, and global warming.

Structure and Governance

So, what is FSC’s governance structure? This global organization opens membership based on equity, democracy, transparency, and participation. It provides platform to find solutions together of improving the practices of forest management.

The organization is governed by the members themselves. The members may join as the representative of specific organizations or just as individuals. Their backgrounds are also quite diverse, environmental NGOs, forestry focused community groups, organizations of forest certifications, and timber trade corporations.

The applying members are classified into one of the three available chambers: environmental, economic, and social. The chambers then each divided into sub-chambers of northern and southern regions. When vote system is performed, the system ensures that both regions have equal fifty percentage of vote, in order to accommodate fair influences from different groups with different interests. By now, you have learned more about ‘what is FSC’, what the purpose is, and how it is being structure. FSC also has a range of network partners that also promote responsible management of forests such as FSC National Representatives and FSC National Offices

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