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FSC Harmonizes Regional US Forest Standards

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC–US) announced it has revised its Forest Management Standard for forest operations in the contiguous U.S.  Nine regional standards have now been integrated into a single, national standard to reduce complexity and improve efficiencies in the management and auditing process. Regional variation is maintained in key areas of forest management and conservation where local conditions, including forest types and ecological processes, warrant different management techniques, according to the organization.

The new standard also comes with guidance statements that clarify the goals of the requirements and suggested tools for achieving them. These guidance statements are intended to encourage clear and consistent application of the standard, the organization stated.

Another significant change to the FSC standard is how it is applied to family forests. The organization said it has developed a modified set of requirements that addresses challenges faced by small and low intensity managed forests. This would allow family forests (and other ownerships qualifying as small or low intensity) to be evaluated for FSC certification using a standard that takes into account the scale and intensity of small forest management operations.

The Family Forest Indicators are designed to reflect that certain FSC criteria (such as the capacity for forest management to affect local economies, larger social conditions, and large scale ecological processes) may not apply to family forests individually. Additionally, the certification procedures take into account the potential cumulative impacts of multiple family forests in close proximity on these same issues. In some cases new indicators have been developed to address conditions unique to small ownerships.

The revised standard has been approved by FSC International which requires all accredited forest management standards based on its 10 Principles and 56 Criteria to undergo a review and consider necessary revision every five years.

Recently, twenty-one members of Canada’s forest industry signed an agreement suspending new logging on almost 29 million hectares of the Boreal Forest and agreed to abide by FSC standards for managing the remaining area. Meanwhile, private landowners in Pennsylvania, including corporations, will be able to benefit from selling forest carbon offsets with a program that rewards landowners for forest conservation by helping package forest carbon offsets from FSC-certified forests.

The FSC is an international, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

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