FSC International – Forests for All Forever

Facts & Figures

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

Waiting for your input …

Maintaining forest ecosystems and local communities

© FSC GD / Milan Reška

FSC 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 economically viablility.

To secure this certification, FSC members have agreed upon a set of criteria that forest managers or owners have to meet.

Maintaining areas of environmental and social value

Forest management certification helps protect the people and plant and animal species that live in and around, and depend upon, the forest. Forest areas are often home to communities of Indigenous People who live or work on the land, and for whom the forest is a source of essential food or materials and a contributor to their traditional cultural identity. To meet social criteria, certificate holders must respect Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and enhance forest workers’ rights.

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

Forest management certification: the process

Certification is achieved by passing an assessment carried out by an FSC-accredited certification body, with forest management conformity assessed against the FSC Principles and Criteria.

Following a brief initial pre-assessment, which aims to reveal any potential areas of non-conformity that could prevent certification, the evaluation process consists of an in-depth review of forest management processes and their environmental, social, and economic impact. A certificate will be issued, depending on the number and scale of any non-conformities discovered.

FSC forest management certification is valid for five years, subject to annual checks that FSC requirements are continuously met.

Supplying controlled wood

Not all companies are able to source 100 per cent FSC-certified wood for their products. In this instance, they can supplement it with controlled wood from a forest management company that has achieved controlled wood certification. In order for forest owners and managers to gain this certification, and supply controlled wood, they must meet the FSC controlled wood standard.

Meeting this standard means that the material sourced has not been harvested illegally, in violation of traditional or civil rights, or in a way that threatens high conservation value (HCV) areas. Controlled wood must also not be taken from forests being converted to plantation or non-forest use, or from forests containing genetically modified trees.

Forest Restoration

Coinciding with the Global Landscape Forum 2017, FSC has published a white paper on FSC certification and forest restoration. This document is available in English, Spanish and French versions:
English version: FSC's Contribution to Forest Restoration
Spanish version: Contribuciones de FSC a la Restauración Forestal
French version: Contributions du FSC à la Restauration Forestière

Read more about what FSC is doing regarding forest restoration here.


FSC is a proven tool for sourcing forest materials that have minimum negative impacts on forests Companies that use agricultural or forest commodities are increasingly committing to ‘deforestation-free’ policies. Forest certification is a proven tool that can help. Equally important is that forest certification goes beyond deforestation and maintains the quality of forests, preventing forest degradation. Certification works for large and small companies, and is controlled by independent, specialized, third-party bodies. Almost 17 percent of the industrial roundwood produced globally comes from FSC-certified forests – a robust start for promoting deforestation-free products.

Certifying a small-medium forest area

FSC recognizes that forests are managed by individuals and groups of all shapes and sizes – such as smallholders, including Indigenous Peoples, and communities practicing low-intensity forest management.

We also understand that if you belong to this category, you may find the standard assessment process too complex or expensive. That’s why FSC has a dedicated project, the New Approaches project, to support these types of operations in achieving certification: including simplified requirements, specialized technical guidance and training, and other resources.


If you are a smallholder, or community, we have resources about group certification, SLIMF requirements, and other materials available to help you.