Demonstrating the Impact of FSC Certification
Measuring how FSC certification affects forests, people, and business practices
Given the broad scope of FSC certification, we have many different approaches that measure the social, economic, and environmental impact of what we do. You can read stories about our work in a forest near you here.
FSC theory of change
Firstly, we set out to create a theory of change (ToC). A ToC is the basis from which organizations can map out their intended impacts and the changes they need to make to achieve them. Our ToC sets out to assess how our efforts will improve the environmental, social, and economic management of forests.
Developing a ToC helps us to articulate our intended impact, our contribution to wider sustainability goals, and the supporting strategies required to achieve it.
Monitoring and evaluation reports
FSC runs a monitoring and evaluation initiative intended to help businesses understand our system and the impact it delivers. We produce yearly reports that demonstrate how we are contributing towards the social, environmental, and economic welfare of forests.
These reports also showcase ongoing research projects that assess the effectiveness of the FSC system. You can find the latest reports at the bottom of this page. You can also view a number of independent research studies into the FSC system via the Sustainability Impact Learning Platform.
Internally generated data
We produce a significant amount of information from certification assessments. Each FSC-certified forest must have an annual assessment carried out by an FSC-accredited certification body that reports the actions the forest owner has taken to gain, or maintain, FSC certification. These reports focus on twelve indicators of impact, including: ecosystem services; biodiversity; health and safety; and . If in the instance that forest management does not meet FSC requirements, corrective actions are requested. Details of these reports can be found on the FSC certificate holder database.
Independent, external research studies about the impacts of FSC certification are carried out by universities, research institutions, and other organizations around the world. This research includes for example: analysis of Corrective Action Requests; case studies on forest management, governance, socio-economic and ecological conditions in certified operations; and economic analysis of timber markets. Here are some recommended readings.
FSC supports independent research that looks into the effectiveness of its system by providing researchers with access to relevant information (e.g. where to find FSC-related policies, identification of key stakeholders for interviews...) and creates dialogue between individuals and groups. We welcome any manuscripts related to FSC prior to publication or submission to peer-review journals, for fact-check and to provide other feedbacks (e.g. terminology…). Please contact us to find out more.
FSC is a member of the ISEAL Alliance, the global association for social and environmental standards systems. Together with other ISEAL Alliance members, FSC has developed the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impacts of Social and Environmental Standards. This code requires FSC, and other ISEAL Alliance members, to clearly state the changes they want to create in their respective fields, and to measure their progress continually. We cooperate closely with other members to revise this code and its related documents as needed.
Value and Impact Analysis (VIA) initiative:
Over the past two decades, the FSC system has been widely recognized for its strong multi-stakeholder processes and carefully defined social and environmental criteria for forest management. However, it has often been a challenge for businesses producing FSC-certified products to quantify and demonstrate the value the system brings to the better management of the world’s forests. IKEA, Tetra Pak, and Kingfisher are partnering to promote the benefits of legal, responsibly sourced, sustainable timber and clarify the role of FSC certification in the delivery of these values. Independent from the FSC, supported by IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and coordinated by the ISEAL Alliance, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers met under the umbrella of the ‘Value and Impact Analysis (VIA) initiative’ over two-year (2015 - 2017) to develop methodologies evaluating the impacts of FSC forest management certification. The learning from VIA will be shared with other certification schemes as well other sectors beyond forestry that are covered by more than 20 certification schemes that are members of the ISEAL Alliance.
- FSC monitoring and evaluation report 2013:context, figures, effects and impacts
- FSC monitoring and evaluation report 2014: Context, data, effects and impacts
- FSC monitoring and evaluation report 2015: Context, data, effects and impacts
- FSC Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2016: Context, figures, effects, and impacts
- FSC Monitoring and Evaluation System Report
- FSC Monitoring and Evaluation System report 2016
- Monitoring and Evaluation System report 2018
- Overview of the FSC Theory of Change "Rewarding Responsible Forest Management" V-2
- Theory of Change of the FSC - Impact of Transformations (Version 2)
- Expected impacts of FSC and its contribution to broader sustainability objectives 2014-01 (VERSION 3)
- FSC monitoring and evaluation system: at a glance (1 page)
- FSC Theory of Change: at a glance (1 page)
- List of suggested research