FSC International – Forests for All Forever

Facts & Figures

200,025,086 ha certified
38,333 CoC certificates
1,639 FM/CoC certificates

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Preventing the use of illegally harvested timber

© FSC G.D. / Christian Irrgang

At FSC, we regard legality as essential to responsible forest management worldwide.

In fact, it is our first principle of responsible forest management. All countries with forests have rules to manage ownership and harvest rights, but the level of enforcement of these rules varies across the globe.

For this reason, several governments have, in the last decade, adopted ‘legislation for timber legality’: laws that ban the trading of timber that is harvested illegally anywhere on the planet. To prevent purchase and sales of timber products connected to illegal harvesting, these governments require companies to apply ‘due diligence’.

FSC fully supports this legality legislation, which is currently in place in the USA, the EU, and Australia. However, it is worth noting that both USA and EU legislation does not recognize voluntary certification as automatic evidence of compliance.

Since 2013, FSC has taken measures to ensure its forest management, chain of custody, and controlled wood standards meet the requirements of these legislations. This way, certification can make compliance a simple process (find more information on compliance here). In the EU specifically, FSC has improved government officials’ understanding of the value and reliability of FSC certification.

What does timber legality legislation mean for FSC certificate holders in other parts of the world?

While timber legality laws target the companies active in the countries where the legislation is in place, FSC-certified suppliers from other countries may have to play a role in ensuring that such companies can apply the required due diligence. If you are a supplier, you may need to assist customers further up the supply chain with information, risk assessment, and risk mitigation.

Find out more on the potential role for certificate holders producing for customers in these legislated countries here.

For specific questions, please contact John Hontelez, Chief Advocacy Officer.