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FSC Standards Interpretations


This section gives you access to current standard interpretations separated by topics and related normative documents.

FSC-STD-01-001 Principles and Criteria


Question

Can areas converted from natural forests after 1994 become certified if the forest manager is actively restoring these sites toward natural conditions? Would it be possible to invoke FSC-ADV-31-001?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) 10.9
Published Wednesday, 11. September 2013
Answer

In general no, but there are 2 exceptional cases where certification in these areas may be allowed:

  • Plantations established in areas converted from natural forest after November 1994 where sufficient evidence is submitted to the certification body that the manager/owner is not responsible directly or indirectly of such conversion (Criterion 10.9)
  • If a restoration option has been approved and included in the National Standard.

Invoking FSC-ADV-31-001 is not possible. The Motion 18 from the GA 2011 requires the FSC to complete the Plantations Review.


Question

If conversion in circumstances other than compliance with FSC Criterion 6.10 cannot take place within an FSC-certified area, is the conversion of plantations to natural forest not permitted?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) Criterion 6.10
Published Wednesday, 11. September 2013
Answer

Criterion 6.10 refers to ‘Forest conversion to plantations or non-forest land uses’. The formation of more natural conditions is not covered by this criterion.

There are no requirements for the formation of more natural conditions (e.g. from plantations to natural forest). This is OK as long as HCVs are maintained and not threatened.

Please, check the definition of ‘conversion’ in the Policy for Association (FSC-POL-01-004 V2-0).


Question

We have two clients, which are certified under single certificates.
These two companies are owners of a part of their lands and concessionaires of the second part, comprised of small owners’ concessions.
The small owners have contractually given full operational, administrative and responsibilities to these companies to manage the forest for 30 years, there is no ambiguity about the concession status of their lands.
Now these two companies want to enter into an FSC certification group that will be managed by a third company (Type I group, shared responsibilities). This third company is the mother company of these 2 forest companies.
We think that they can be considered as classical group members managing their own lands and concessions.

Shall each small owner be considered/become a group member?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0; FSC-DIR-20-007
Requirement(s) Criteria 1.6, 2.1; ADV-20-007-03
Published Monday, 26. August 2013
Answer

No, owners don´t have to become group members, as long as the manager has explicit authorization from the owner to manage the forest in compliance with the FSC P&C.


Question

Should the precautionary approach be applied to a decision concerning the sale of HCVF forest land which falls within the scope of an FSC FM/COC certificate to a different non-FSC certified legal entity?

Normative Reference FSC P&C (FSC-STD-01-001 V4)
Requirement(s) Principle 9: Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests; Criterion 1.6
Published Wednesday, 08. May 2013
Answer

FSC does not intend to regulate the sale of land containing HCVs by certified organizations or applicants, but it is expected that the organization will make every reasonable effort to safeguard the values and/or the area containing the values, including making the buyer aware of the values and measures to protect them.


Question

How is “permanently sustained” interpreted for Criterion 5.6 in relation to calculated AAC? Based on experience working with a number of approved FSC national FM standards, it is our understanding that “permanently sustained” does not preclude harvesting levels that in any one year or perhaps even multiple years exceed what would be classified as maximum average AAC.

Or in other words it is possible to be in conformance with Criterion 5.6 when short term annual harvest volumes exceed calculated AAC if it can be justified based on long term management objectives (e.g. shifting age class distribution to a normalized state)?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) Criterion 5.6.
Published Friday, 07. September 2012
Answer

Yes, it is possible, if the AAC that has been calculated based on recognised methods for a period of years, usually ten years, is complied with. Or if in case of unforeseen circumstances, e.g. calamities or storms, the AAC is adjusted.


Question

Can a certificate holder continue to plant invasive species, such as black wattle (a highly invasive species) on a large scale in plantations established in 1930's?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) Criteria 10.8, 6.9.
Published Friday, 03. February 2012
Answer

No, these plantations are not allowed unless invasive impacts can be controlled and effective mitigation measures are in place.


Question

Under what circumstances can Canadian Non Renewable Forest License (with a 5 year term) be certified?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) Criteria 1.6, 2.1.
Published Tuesday, 31. January 2012
Answer

According to FSC Principles and Criteria, a 5 year license wouldn´t be an impediment itself to achieve a Forest Management certificate. Nevertheless, long-term commitment to adhere to the FSC P&C in the Management Unit has to be guaranteed, together with clear evidence of long-term forest use rights to the land.

A statement of this long-term commitment shall be contained in a publicly available document made freely available. This document will also contain the commitments listed for the self-declaration statement required by FSC-POL-01-004 Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC, for non-involvement in unacceptable activities.

The key factor is whether there is convincing evidence of management for the long-term stewardship of the forest. In evaluating long-term commitment to the FSC Principles and Criteria, FSC is looking for evidence of resources invested in long term management - for example in research, inventory, management planning, roading, controlled harvesting, post harvest inventory and forest protection.

In evaluating long-term forest use rights to the land, FSC is looking for clear long-term use rights of the owner. These may be partially delegated to a responsible authority, such as a concessionaire, for a shorter or longer period. FSC is then looking for clear evidence of this delegation of authority, together with the owner’s commitment that the delegated authority has the right to manage the land in compliance with the FSC P&C.


Question

Can land possession rights be considered as sufficient evidence to demonstrate long-term forest use rights to the land in the context of Brazil?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-01-001 V4-0
Requirement(s) Criterion 2.1
Published Friday, 04. July 2008
Answer

Land possession rights can be considered as sufficient evidence to demonstrate long-term forest use rights to the land in the context of Brazil, provided that:

- the certificate holder (or applicant) can demonstrate to be in the process of obtaining formally registered land titles;
- the certificate holder can demonstrate the progress in obtaining formally registered land titles in each surveillance audit;
- there are no unresolved disputes of substantial magnitude over land tenure or use under possession rights (see Criterion 2.3);
- the land possession rights shall be transferred to formally registered land titles within a period of max. 5 years of including the land into the certificate.