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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-20-001 Accreditation


Question

How shall university education or ‘equivalent’ be interpreted according to the requirements for auditor qualification provided in the standard FSC-STD-20-001?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) 1.3, 1.5
Published Friday, 11. April 2014
Answer

University level education is equal to higher education (tertiary or third level education) in a discipline relevant to the evaluation (e.g. ecology, forestry, sociology, economics, anthropology).
An equivalent of university education may be secondary education, and a minimum of 10 years of professional experience in an area of work relevant to forestry evaluation (e.g. forest management, postgraduate research, consultancy).


Question

Shall CB auditors and CB audit teams conducting Controlled Wood evaluations at FMU level (according to FSC-STD-40-005, Annex 3) have the same qualification as for evaluations of Forest Management Enterprises (according to FSC-STD-30-010)?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Annex 2, Clause 1.5; Annex 3, Section 3
Published Wednesday, 05. February 2014
Answer

Yes, CB auditors conducting Controlled Wood evaluations at FMU level shall comply with auditor qualifications specified in FSC-STD-20-001, Annex 2, Clause 1.5
Audit teams shall comply with qualifications as specified in FSC-STD-20-001, Annex 3, Section 3.


Question

Can a 3-days ISO 19011 training course (incl. exam) be accepted as qualification for lead auditors after 31 December 2012?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Annex 2, Clause 1.2
Published Friday, 15. November 2013
Answer

Yes, the transitional exception for lead auditor training (FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0, Annex 2, Clause 1.2) has been extended until the next revision of FSC-STD-20-001 (scheduled for 2013/14).


Question

Is it required to assess the Certificate Holder (CH) within the next 12 months from the last surveillance audit?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001
Requirement(s) Clause 20.1
Published Wednesday, 11. September 2013
Answer

Not for surveillance evaluations. FSC-STD-20-001 Clause 20.1 states that surveillance evaluations of FSC CHs shall take place at least annually and a PSU interpretation states that in the context of surveillance “annually” is to be interpreted as follows:

  • FM audits: at least once per calendar year (to allow flexibility for evaluating seasonal activities);
  • COC audits: at least once per calendar year, but it should not be later than 15 months after the last audit.


Question

FSC-STD-20-001 requires that a chain of custody evaluation team shall always include at least one team member who is fluent in the language of the area in which the evaluation takes place, or a designated independent interpreter. Are there any scenarios that could warrant an exception to this rule, such as cases where the parent company has a standard corporate language requirement which is different from the local language?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Annex 3, Clause 2.1.2
Published Wednesday, 29. May 2013
Answer

It is acceptable that the evaluation team include at least one team member who is fluent in the corporate language instead of the local language if all of the following criteria are met:

  • All relevant records and procedures for the CoC system are written and understood in the corporate language;
  • All management staff and those with FSC responsibilities can communicate fluently in the corporate language.


Question

Can an ASI witness audit be substituted for a witness audit carried out by the CB to meet the requirements of 12.4? In other words does a witness audit performed by ASI on a particular Lead audit fulfill this requirement or are CBs required to conduct a witness audit of every lead audit regardless of whether or not they have been witnessed by ASI to conform to this requirement?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001
Requirement(s) 12.4
Published Tuesday, 28. May 2013
Answer

No, the responsibility for complying with the requirements of FSC-STD-20-001 cannot be “outsourced” to ASI.


Question

Is it possible to issue certificates to non-registered entities?
Are the following examples possible?

Certificate issued to "FMU ABC" or "Certification Group XYZ" (not necessarily a legal entity) represented by Forest Management Enterprise Ltd. (legal entity) Woodstreet 1, 12345 Greenhills. Timberland

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Clause 19.6; Clause 7.2.
Published Friday, 07. September 2012
Answer

No, it is not possible to issue certificates to unregistered entities. Certificates shall be issued to legal entities.

According to Clause 19.6 c) in FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0, all FM and COC certificates shall include (…) the legal name and registered address of the certificate holder, plus any trade names and other addresses that will be used for sales invoices.

Furthermore, according to Clause 7.2.a) of the same standard, a client needs to have entered into and hold a valid TLA ‘License Agreement for the FSC Certification Scheme’, which is not suspended. Only a legal entity can validly enter into a License Agreement.


Question

A Resource Manager, located in Country A, manages forestlands in Country B (type II group scheme). All forestlands are owned by foreign investors with permanent addresses in Country A. No permanent address exists in Country B. Certificate holder is the forestmanager as resource manager.

Problem: The FSC Database only allows including one country. Hence, there is confusion about the “allocation of the FM certificate and certified area”.

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001, V3-0
Requirement(s) Clause 19.5 and 19.6
Published Tuesday, 22. May 2012
Answer

Additional Information on the FMUs (such as location, etc) should be presented in the optional field “FMU comment” of the database.


Question

Which documents are required to be uploaded to the FSC Database?

Normative Reference see above
Requirement(s) see above
Published Thursday, 22. March 2012
Answer

Certification Bodies are required to upload the following documents to the FSC Database:

  • Public summary reports of Forest Management certificates (FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0 Clause 19.5; FSC-STD-20-007b V1-0 Clause 3.1, 3.2;
  • Publicly available results of companies' Controlled Wood risk assessments (ADVICE-40-005-007 of FSC-DIR-40-005);
  • Form for registration and approval of FSC product groups grandfathered with the reduced labelling threshold percentage and exemption of Controlled Wood requirements for co-products (Annex A of FSC-DIR-40-004);
  • Application and evaluation form for minor components derogations (Annex 1 of FSC-PRO-40-004 V2-2);
  • FSC Trademark License Agreement (TLA)


Question

Please clarify the definition of “annually”.

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Clause 20.1.
Published Tuesday, 01. March 2011
Answer

PSU interpretation (mandatory): In the context of surveillance “annually” is to be interpreted as follows:

  • FM audits: at least once per calendar year (to allow flexibility for evaluating seasonal activities);
  • COC audits: at least once per calendar year, but it should not be later than 15 months after the last audit.


Question

What is meant by “relevant” customers?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-001 V3-0
Requirement(s) Clause 7.7b
Published Monday, 21. February 2011
Answer

The following customers are considered “relevant”:
Certified and uncertified clients who:

  • Bought certified material;
  • Placed an order or submitted an enquiry for certified products;
  • Otherwise expressed an interest in purchasing certified products.