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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-30-005 FM Group


a) There are contradictory definitions for stratification of group members according to size:
FSC-STD-30-005 Clause 8.3 requests the group entity to separate between large members above 1000 ha and small members below 1000 ha.
At the same time, according to Clause 8.4, the group entity shall use the same stratification the certification body (CB) but FSC-STD-20-007 identifies four different size classes for stratification.

b) There is a problem with indicator 8.4 and 8.5 of FSC-STD-30-005: they request the group entity to do an internal monitoring of members different to the external monitoring. If there is only one member in one size class this is not possible and a sampling does not result in a sample, but in one member every year.

c) In addition for FMU < 100 ha, which consequently have the lowest risk, the audit intensity would be significantly higher than for larger forests.

Normative Reference FSC-STD-30-005 / FSC-STD-20-007
Requirement(s) Clauses, 8.4 and 8.5 / Clause 6.3.3
Published Wednesday, 19. February 2014

a) There is no contradiction. Clause 8.4 states that for monitoring purposes the group entity should use the same stratification into sets of ‘like’ FMUs as defined by the CB in their evaluation. Should indicates advice, it is not mandatory.
However, compliance with the requirements in FSC-STD-30-005 and FSC-STD-20-007 is possible following these steps:

1. Separating the members above and below 1000 ha.

2. Doing a further division of each group between <100 ha and 100 – 1000 ha (for members below 1000 ha) and between 1000 – 10000 ha and >10000 ha (for members >1000 ha.)

b) Clause 8.5 states that the group entity should visit different members in their annual monitoring than the ones selected for evaluation by the CB (…). Should is a recommended way, not a requirement if it is not possible because there is one member per class. If there are alternatives the group entity should not visit the same members.
c) FSC-STD-20-007 Clause 6.3.3 provides with specific sampling rules for groups or sub-groups of SLIMFs with less than 100 members that comply with the clause.


Can CBs evaluate quantitative requirements related to landscape level requirements (i.e. requirement to maintain certain percentage of forest area as strict reserves) at the level of sets of like FMUs in the case of SLIMF groups comprised of very small FMUs?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-30-005
Requirement(s) Clause 2.1
Published Monday, 26. August 2013

Yes, as long as the group has established such division of responsibilities in the management system between the group entity and the group members.

The evaluation shall be carried out by the certification body according to the management system of the group. In this case, if the group has agreed that complying with the requirement of maintaining set-aside areas will be the responsibility of the group entity, it shall be evaluated accordingly, this is, at the group entity level (or level of sets of like FMUs).


In FM Groups, where a Resource Manager is managing part or one of several properties owned by an owner, is the owner (group member) required to make a commitment to adhere to the FSC P&C or comply with the Policy for Association on land which is outside the Resource Manager’s management and outside the scope of the certificate? Note the Resource Manager signs the TLA, not the owners.

Normative Reference FSC-STD-30-005.
Requirement(s) Section 4.2.
Published Tuesday, 10. April 2012

Yes, the owner (group member) is required to make a commitment to comply with all applicable certification requirements.


Regarding the internal monitoring of Forest Management Groups, defined in the FSC-STD-30-005, clause 8.1.ii requires that compliance with all requirements of the FSC standard has to be confirmed during the annual internal audit. Clause 8.2 is not clear to me and seems to contradict 8.1. Does the word criteria in 8.2 apply to the criteria of the FSC P&C?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-30-005. FSC-STD-20-007
Requirement(s) Clause 8.1, 8.2. Clause 6.3.7.
Published Tuesday, 31. January 2012

The FSC-STD-30-005 states:

8.1 The Group entity shall implement a documented monitoring and control system that includes at least the following:
i. Written description of the monitoring and control system;
ii. Regular (at least annual) monitoring visits to a sample of Group members to confirm continued compliance with all the requirements of the applicable Forest Stewardship Standard, and with any additional requirements for membership of the Group.

8.2 The Group entity shall define criteria to be monitored at each internal audit and according to the group characteristics, risk factors and local circumstances.

The Group members shall comply with all FSC applicable requirements, but there is no need to audit all these requirements annually during an internal monitoring or an annual surveillance.

The Group entity may focus its surveillance during a particular annual surveillance evaluation on specific elements of the applicable Forest Stewardship Standard, with the provision that all aspects of the Forest Stewardship Standard are monitored during the period of validity of the certificate.