FSC International – Forests for All Forever

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199,920,815 ha certified
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Ecosystem Services

Creating incentives for the preservation of ecosystem services

© FSC GD - Milan Reska

Ecosystem services (water, carbon, biodiversity, soil, and recreational services) are the benefits that we obtain from nature. They provide society with a wide range of benefits from reliable flows of clean water to productive soil and carbon sequestration.

FSC and forest ecosystems

FSC has been taking care of the world’s forests for over two decades, helping to ensure that forests and their ecosystem services are responsibly managed. Building on existing world-renowned certification, we are developing new tools that will show businesses, investors, and governments that these natural benefits are being preserved, and will reward participating FSC certificate holders for doing so.

Creating incentives for the protection of forest ecosystems

FSC-certified forest management already requires the protection of ecosystem services. The new tools that we are developing can be used by businesses and governments to demonstrate the impact their purchases, payments, and investments have on preserving ecosystem services.

As rates of deforestation increase globally, FSC is developing tools to promote ecosystem services payments. These are an alternative incentive model to the short-term economic benefits of forest degradation for those not yet FSC certified, and an added economic support for FSC certificate holders already managing their forests responsibly.

The FSC ecosystem services procedure

The FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure will provide new tools to strengthen incentives for the protection of ecosystem services:

1. Impact verification: The new FSC ecosystem services procedure provides a global approach that FSC certificate holders can use to demonstrate the impact of their forest management activities on ecosystem services.
2. Ecosystem Services Claims: Verified impacts give rise to FSC ecosystem services claims, which will provide governments, investors, buyers, and businesses with assurance that the impacts they are paying for do preserve ecosystem services.

FSC ecosystem services tools will provide the financial sector with timely, audited, and localized data about the impact of their investments on ecosystem services. Additionally, businesses will be able to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Placing monetary value on ecosystem services, through mechanisms such as payment for ecosystem services (PES), helps us create incentives for forest managers to protect and restore ecosystems.

Visit this webpage for the most recent updates on the development of the ecosystem services procedure.

Pilot testing the ecosystem services procedure

The ecosystem services procedure has been pilot tested at over a dozen sites in eight countries. During the pilot testing, forest managers provided evidence of impacts, which was assessed by FSC-accredited certification bodies according to the rules of the procedure. The following sites have had positive impacts on ecosystem services verified during pilot testing (click on the green text to read the Ecosystem Services Certification Document (ESCD) of the site). These sites were assessed according to different versions of the draft ecosystem services procedure. All sites will have to be re-assessed against the final approved version of the procedure:

Pilot site Ecosystem Service Approved Ecosystem Services Claim
Pt Ratah Timber, Indonesia  Carbon sequestration and storage On this forest, carbon is maintained through reduced impact logging.
Biodiversity conservation On this forest, the diversity of terrestrial mammal and bird species is maintained.
Lombok, Indonesia Watershed services On this FSC-certified forest, water has been protected through the maintenance of forest cover.
Comunidad Nativa Bélgica, Peru Biodiversity conservation On this FSC-certified forest, forest cover is being maintained and native species diversity is being conserved.
Huong Son, Vietnam Carbon sequestration and storage An FSC-accredited certification body [GFA Certification] has verified that forest carbon stocks are being maintained on this FSC-certified forest.
Cuenca Río Mechaico - Vieille, Chile Watershed services On this FSC-certified forest, watershed services are being restored through the implementation of enhancement measures aimed at improving water quality.
Bosques Cautín, Chile Biodiversity conservation On this FSC-certified forest, medicinal plants are being maintained for traditional use by Mapuche Indigenous Peoples.

The ForCES project

In collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, FSC launched the five-year Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES) project in 2011 as an incentive for the preservation of valuable ecosystem services in responsibly managed forests. The aim of the project is to adapt FSC standards to emerging ecosystem services markets and target ecosystem services with present or future market potential. The ForCES project was implemented and tested in several pilot sites, specifically in the following countries: Chile, Indonesia, Nepal and Vietnam. The ForCES project finalized in 2017. You can read the final report here, and the executive summary of the final report here.

Contact Information

For more information on helping us develop and promote FSC ecosystem services tools, or to support or invest in ecosystem services on FSC-certified forests, please contact Chris Henschel, FSC International, Programme Manager (Ecosystem Services), c.henschel@fsc.org