Below are a list of FSC Australia's most commonly asked questions categorised for your convenience. If your question is not on this list or you seek further clarification please contact the FSC Australia team.
ABOUT FSC: FSC GOVERNANCE, STRUCTURE, MEMBERSHIP AND PURPOSE
What is FSC and why is it important?
FSC helps take care of forests and the people and wildlife who call them home. Our forests give us many things like books, tissues, furniture and so much more. FSC helps you keep your life full of forest products while keeping our forests full of life.
Our trusted logo can be found all around the world and provides international recognition to organisations who support the growth of responsible forest management.
FSC is unique because the system is:
- Credible: FSC’s role is to bring together Economic, Environment, and Social concerns from members globally to develop and agree upon a set of Principles and Criteria. Before a product can be labeled as FSC certified, each step in the supply chain has been independently audited against the FSC standards, to ensure that no uncertified materials have entered the supply chain.
- Inclusive: FSC believes that respect for the views and needs of others are essential. Through open multi-stakeholder processes, FSC has helped give access, voice and vote to people across the world.
- Democratic: FSC is governed by its members, who meet every three years to vote on the global direction of FSC. Equal voting weight is given to social, environmental and economic chambers regardless of the number of members in each chamber.
- Global and Local: Although the standards are global, the strength of FSC is at the local level. Through our standards development processes, people define and agree what responsible forestry means in their forests. The result is forest stewardship standards that are balanced, local and lasting. For more information about FSC here.
How is FSC different from other forest certifications?
FSC certification is internationally recognised as the most rigorous environmental and social standard for responsible forest management. Its great strength lies in its ability to encourage dialogue between diverse groups of stakeholders. This partnership among business, the public sector, and civil society provides a unique tool for dealing with the issues surrounding forestry.
FSC is an international, non-profit organisation founded by, and representing the views of, environmentalists, social interest groups, responsible retailers and leading forest companies. Many other forest certification schemes represent only a narrow selection of views, such as industry only. You can read more about the FSC governance structure here.
FSC standards ensure that environmental, social and economic needs are balanced, and that long-term forest management plans are implemented.
On the ground, this means real benefits so that:
- Waterways are protected
- Wildlife habitat and species are protected
- High conservation value forests are preserved
- Forest management practices are monitored annually
- Pesticide use is reduced
- Worker safety and wellbeing is enhanced
- The rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected
- Communities are respected and valued
What is the role of FSC Australia?
FSC Australia is a National Office of FSC International. It ensures that the voice of Australian stakeholders are heard internationally through its membership in creating the standards and promoting the scheme. It also ensures the trademark use is enforced and ensures the public understands and can engage in FSC processes. In addition it provides accurate policy and market information for those seeking further knowledge.
FSC certification however is carried out by FSC accredited certification bodies (auditors). FSC itself does not certify forest operations or manufacturers. This maintains FSC's independence between its standards and requirements, and operations seeking certification.
You can learn find the accredited certification bodies here.
Learn more about FSC International here.
How can I get involved with FSC?
There are many different ways you can get involved with FSC.
If you represent an organisation/company you can:
- Support FSC by becoming a member of the Social, Environment or Economic chambers of FSC Australia.
- Become FSC Certified (if you manufacture or buy and sell FSC products)
- Become a Retail Supporter (if you sell FSC certified & labelled products directly to the end-user)
- Sponsor an event or partner on a project
If you are an individual you can:
- Support FSC by becoming a member of the Social, Environment or Economic chambers of FSC Australia.
- Provide feedback on current consultations
- Volunteer your time by contacting info at au.fsc point org
- Donate to FSC Australia
What's the difference between Membership and Certification?
FSC Membership and Certification are two very different ways you can participate in the FSC system.
Membership: Financially supporting FSC and participating in Governance
Members choose to be involved with, and support FSC Australia as an organisation. They believe in the importance of FSC in Australia and around the world, and want to be involved in the decision-making aspects of the Organisation, whilst ensuring that FSC Australia has the funds available to complete its important work.
If a company joins FSC as a member, the company must have demonstrated active commitment to implementing or promoting the FSC Principles and Criteria for responsible forest management. Membership does not allow a company to make any claims about the products it sells, or the forest it manages.
You can read more about becoming a Member of FSC Australia here.
Certification: Demonstrating compliance with FSC Forest Management or Chain of Custody standards
If a Forest Manager or company wishes to make claims about the certified nature of its forests/products, or use the FSC logo it needs to undergo an independent audit and become certified to a relevant standard. Once an audit has been completed successful and standards are met the company can use the FSC trademark to promote relevant products.
You can read more about Forest Management certification and Chain of Custody(CoC) certification.
Also see the other FAQs about CoC below.
FSC PRODUCTS AND CERTIFICATION
Learn more about finding FSC products and what certification involves.
The FSC Standards cover three categories:
- The source of the fibre (Forest Management)
- The processing & tracking of the fibre/products throughout the supply chain (Chain of Custody)
- The promotion of finished products (Trademark Licence for retailers)
If you represent a business or organisation deciding which of these categories applies to your situation will help you locate the most relevant information.
How do I find a FSC Certified supplier/product?
The best way to find a list of possible suppliers is by using the FSC public database http://info.fsc.org. You can view a video tutorial on how to navigate it here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/buy-fsc-certified
You can use the database to search by country, species, product type, name or number. The database can also be used to check that your supplier is in fact certified. The database stores public information, and anyone can access it.
If you are trying to do your bit by purchasing FSC products such as toilet paper to use around the home or office, we have list of retailers who sell FSC Certified products here: http://au.fsc.org/fsc-retailers.313.htm
I bought a product with an FSC logo, can you tell me more about it?
FSC is a non-profit organisation that certifies sustainable forest management.
If the product that you have purchased has an FSC logo on it that mean the timber/paper has come from a responsibly managed forest.
We do not manufacture products, so unfortunately we are not able to assist with replacement elements, or more information about the manufacturing of the item.
Your best solution would be to contact the store that you purchased the item from. Or if there is an FSC code ‘FSC-C000000’ on the product somewhere you can enter that code on our website: http://info.fsc.org which will give you the manufacturer or distributor’s contact details.
We are a retailer of FSC products, do we need FSC certification?
If the organisation you represent sells FSC certified products directly to end-users, either other organisations or consumers, you may not be required to have Chain of Custody (CoC) certification in order to use FSC trademarks to promote your FSC certified products.
The conditions you must meet are:
- Products must be labelled with an approved FSC logo
- Products must not be altered or transformed before being sold to the end user
- Products must be purchased directly from a CoC certified supplier
If you meet these conditions you are eligible to sign a Trademark Licence Agreement instead of seeking FSC certification.
You can find out more here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/get-involved/use-the-logo/fsc-trademark-licence or by contacting trademarks at au.fsc point org
What type of products can be certified?
You might be surprised about what products can actually be certified. There are FSC certified Rubber gloves, balloons, shoes, sports balls, caps, kitchen utensils, wine corks, books, wallpaper, timbers, paper, packaging, furniture, pens and pencils – even guitars and iPhone covers! Any product that comes from a Forest can be FSC Certified, as long as the Forest Manager complies with the relevant FSC standard.
Which timber species can be FSC certified?
Any timber species can be FSC Certified as long as the forest management process complies with our forest management guidelines.
You may find that there are some timber species which are not currently certified, but this would be due to the fact that there are not currently any Forest Managers who have met the standard to harvest these particular species.
To see which species of timber are currently grown and FSC certified in Australia please see our list here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/buy-fsc-certified/certifi […]
To search for Forest Managers or suppliers of a particular species you can use the the FSC public database http://info.fsc.org. You can view a video tutorial on how to navigate it here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/buy-fsc-certified
How do I get Chain of Custody certified?
Chain of Custody certification is achieved by ensuring that your supplier/s are FSC Certified, that they are supplying your with FSC Certified items, ensuring you have procedures in place to differentiate FSC timbers within your business, and processes to sell the FSC products with correct information (ie on invoices).
All of this is audited by an independent auditor from a Certification Body. There are 9 Certification Bodies that can certify to FSC CoC standards in Australia. You should contact them for quotes about cost, and timelines. All of the costs associated with Certification would be paid directly to your Certification Body once you choose who you would like to deal with.
To get started:
- You can read more about CoC here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/get-involved/become-certi […]
- Contact the 9 different Certification Bodies able to certify to FSC Standards here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/get-involved/become-certi […]
- Download the CoC standard to refer to in developing your procedures here: https://ic.fsc.org/en/certification/requirements-g […] (Look for FSC-STD-40-004)
The Sourcing Standards
FSC ensures that forest fibre, whether it is sources directly from a forest or is post-consumer recycled can be traced through the supply chain to the end product. To do so, it is necessary to start with the place where the fibre originates.
There are three ways fibre can enter an FSC labelled product:
- FSC Certification – Forest Management
- FSC Controlled Wood
- FSC Recycled
This picture above shows how these sources, once traced to the product can then be labelled. The 100% label denotes that all of the content of the product comes from a forest that is certified to a Forest Management standard.
The FSC Recycled label denotes a product that can be traced to have come from a Recycled Source in compliance with FSC STD 40-007, which is strict about the levels of post consumer versus recycled material.
Then where products are a mixture of FSC Certified Forest Fibre, FSC Recycled and/or FSC Controlled Wood, the FSC Mix label is applied.
FSC Certification – Forest Management
FSC Certification is the way that FSC drives change in the way forests are managed. FSC Members representing the Social, Economic and Environment chambers have agreed on the 10 principles of Forest Management.
The 10 principles form the basis for FSC Forest Management standards and can be found here: https://ic.fsc.org/en/certification/principles-and-criteria/the-10-principles
You can read more about Forest Management in Australia here: https://au.fsc.org/en-au/get-involved/become-certified/fsc-forest-management-certification
I hear that FSC is developing a Forest Management Standard in Australia, aren’t there already standards in place? How do I get involved with that?
The interim standards described above have been approved by FSC International as meeting the basic requirements of the Principles and Criteria. However, as we transition to a new Principles and Criteria, we are strengthening the FSC system by creating one global set of International Generic Indicators – these are tools an auditor can use to determine whether a company meets the standard or not. In doing so, it is important to interpret these in the Australian context and in different forest environments so that the intentions of stakeholders and the science behind forest management is clear and not open to interpretation. Therefore we are currently embarking on the process of creating this localised interpretation known as the FSC Australian National Forestry Standard.
Standards development is done through consultation with key stakeholders and decisions are made by FSC Members. FSC is an inclusive scheme, and we believe that all views need be heard and respected, to ensure that appropriate outcomes are achieved.
For more information about the progress of this development, please see
FSC Controlled Wood
FSC Controlled Wood is NOT FSC Certification. Its purpose is simply to ensure the avoidance of wood in FSC Certified sources that come from the following unacceptable sources:
- Illegally harvested wood
- Wood harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights
- Wood harvested from forests where High Conservation Values are threatened
- Wood harvested from forests being converted to plantations or non-forest uses
- Wood from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted
It does not provide the full suite of investigation that is provided for by FSC Certification such as ensuring economic viability of the company or other issues in the Principles & Criteria. It is simply to help companies to drive change up the supply chain and encourage Forest Managers to become FSC Certified while proving market demand for FSC material.
The market for Controlled Wood is limited by the reduced ability to label the final product. In a Mix label product, a maximum of 30% of the product can come from Controlled Wood. Controlled Wood is only for trade between Chain of Custody Certificates where they are mixing it with FSC Certified or FSC Recycled Material. For more information about Controlled Wood in Australia, see this page http://au.fsc.org/controlled-wood.207.htm
FSC seeks to ensure that virgin forest fibre is not given preference over Recycled fibre. In doing so however, it ensures that the emphasis is placed on post-consumer reclaimed materials. There is a standard covering the purchase, verification and classification of reclaimed materials for use in FSC certified products and projects. See https://ic.fsc.org/reclaimed-material.93.htm
The Processing Standards
There are some particular standards about reclaimed material and the like, but what is most important and relevant is the Chain of Custody system in FSC STD 40-004. It can be viewed here http://au.fsc.org/chain-of-custody.206.htm.
Chain of Custody certification provides a guarantee about the production and source of FSC-certified products. The main objective of CoC certification is to ensure that material from FSC Certified sources is tracked through the production and distribution process. It is required to pass on the claim that a product is certified by any organisation that processes, transforms or trades in forest products.
There is the potential for companies with multiple sites to use the ‘Multiple Site’ standard, thus reducing auditing cost and for materials going into projects to achieve Project Certification. For more information about other standards that apply, please contact FSC.
Chain of Custody Certification does not look in detail at a company’s operations. It is simply designed to ensure that the FSC fibre is traceable, separately identified and verified as it is altered and transformed. Thus, it is possible for say a Mill to be certified to FSC Chain of Custody, but that simply means that it can handle FSC Certified Products and pass on the claim that they are from a certified source. It does not mean that everything the company sells is certified or that any other inference can be drawn. It is simply about product traceability.
The Promotional Standards – Using the FSC Trademarks and Making Claims that a Product is FSC Certified
If I purchase from an FSC supplier do I need to become certified?
The answer to this question depends on where you sit in the supply chain and what you want to do next. Fundamentally, FSC is a voluntary certification scheme, so you don’t need to be certified to purchase from a certified supplier.
However, if you would like to promote that the product is certified and you wish to alter, transform or relabel the product and sell it as an FSC Certified product, you will need to become certified. This is fundamental to the traceability of the product, and provides an independent guarantee to the consumer that nothing has happened to interfere with the integrity of the FSC Certified product.
If however you are the retailer, selling only to final consumers, and you are merely taking a product and placing it on your shelf, you do not need to become certified. If you would like to promote that products are certified, you require permission. FSC Australia acts as a guarantee for retailers, checking the supply chain to ensure the product is in fact FSC Certified. This can assist with issue that arise in ‘passing off’ or fraud, and offers protection in the event of any issues with the ACCC.
Do I need to use a certified printer to print the FSC label on FSC Paper?
If you would like to use the FSC label on any of your printed materials i.e. catalogues, brochures, business cards etc to demonstrate that the paper it is printed on is FSC Certified, you will need to use an FSC Certified printer. We have a list of certified printers in Australia here http://au.fsc.org/certified-printers-in-australia. […]
If my organisation has made a commitment to use only FSC for our printing can we advertise this on our webpage or annual reports?
If you wish to make a commitment to using only FSC certified products, or specify the use of FSC certified products, then you are free to do so.
If you are making a claim such as “we source only FSC certified”, or “50% of all of our paper used is FSC certified”, then these claims will need to be independently verified. Contact FSC Australia who can assist you.
Can I use FSC certified products to claim the Green Star Sustainable Timber credit?
For timber products to receive points within the Green Star ‘Sustainable Timber’ credit for the use of FSC certified timber, a full Chain of Custody (CoC) must exist through the supply chain to the project. That is, all FSC certified wood materials sourced by, and used on, the project must come from suppliers that have a valid FSC Chain of Custody Certificate. Companies or individuals that process, transform, or trade (take legal ownership of) FSC certified forest products that carry the FSC label or make FSC product claims must have a chain of custody certificate.
Organisations that install an FSC-certified product or products on the project building/site (typically project contractors or subcontractors such as flooring installers, carpenters, furniture installers and the like) do not require FSC CoC certification as long as they do not modify the product’s packaging or form except on the building site (seeking Green Star) as required for installation. All other organisations will need to be FSC CoC certified in order for the certified wood products they fabricate and install to count towards Green Star sustainable Timber Credit. This includes organisations like cabinetmakers and architectural millworkers that manufacture products off-site and then install them on-site (even if considered a subcontractor).
For more information about FSC project certification and the Green Star Sustainable Timber credit, visit: http://au.fsc.org/green-star-timber-credit.261.htm
Do I need to become certified or can I apply to FSC Australia to use the logo?
This depends on where your Organisation fits into the supply chain.
If you are a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler, change the product in any way or wish to label the product; you will require Chain of Custody certification. Each step in the supply chain prior to the retailer needs to be FSC certified in order to ensure there are no breaks in the supply chain.
If you are a retailer (someone who sells to the end user), you can apply for a trademark licence under the TSP program. FSC Australia then approves your artwork and independently checks that the products you wish to promote are certified. For more information about the TSP program please click here http://au.fsc.org/use-of-the-fsc-logo-trademarks.2 […]
Why do I need permission to use the FSC trademark?
FSC®, Forest Stewardship Council® and The check-mark and tree logo are all registered trademarks in Australia and New Zealand, and are owned by FSC AC.
FSC has very strict guidelines about how the trademarks may be used, and who can use them. These are aligned with the desire to ensure that claims that are made are verified independent and go to the heart of the integrity of our system.
All certificate holders (those that are FSC Certified) can use the trademarks once their artwork has been sent to their auditor for approval. They must however use the trademarks strictly in accordance with the Trademark Standard for Certificate Holders, which is located here
For those who wish to use the logo in the promotion of a product or the FSC system and who are not certified, the same check is applied. This is done through the execution of a Trademark licence agreement, but the artwork is approved by FSC Australia. For more information on the Trademarks and how you can gain approval click here
FSC works on an independent audit system, this means that FSC sets the standards, and an independent auditor checks whether a company meets the relevant standard. There are currently six accredited Certification Bodies (CB) in Australia, and each sets their own fee schedule, based on the amount of time it takes to audit the company. This means that cost will depend on how prepared your organisation is for FSC certification.
To ensure your Organisation is prepared for the audit, ensure you have read and prepared according the requirements of the standard. Members can receive help from FSC Australia in their membership fee.
Details of the six accredited auditing bodies that operate within Australia can be found here http://au.fsc.org/fsc-accredited-certification-bod […]
I am a stakeholder and I want to have my opinion taken into account in certification. What do I do?
FSC sets a process that is designed to ensure that stakeholders can be heard before decisions are made about compliance with the Forest Management or Controlled Wood standards. The Certification Bodies are also required to speak to stakeholders in relation to Forest Management Certification.
If you are particularly interested in a Forest Manger or Company’s activities, you should email them and advise that you are a stakeholder who wants to be informed of any certification activities.
You can also ask to be included on the FSC Australia newsletter list by signing up here http://au.fsc.org/fsc-australia-news.191.htm. The auditors in Australia often ask FSC Australia to notify stakeholders of coming audits through the newsletter. It isn’t compulsory but is a usual step.
Finally, you can also speak to the relevant auditor and air your concerns.
How can I make sure those concerns are auditable and taken into account?
FSC knows that there are often concerns as to the way forests are managed and the way companies operate. This is the whole purpose and reason for our existence.
It is important to note however that FSC is not the ‘silver bullet’ that can cure all ills. FSC’s primary purpose to look at what happens in the forest and trace the product as it is altered or transformed along the supply chain, then make it identifiable to those purchasing FSC Certified Products.
It is of fundamental importance that stakeholders have a look at the standard to which a company is seeking to get certified to, and connect their concern with a provision in the standard. If it is a clear and specific concern, with location information and the like, it really gives the auditor something to delve into and explore.
If you are a Member of FSC, you can get free advice and assistance as to which standard applies and how to frame your feedback so that it is constructive and auditable.
What if I don’t participate, can a decision be challenged later?
Deciding not to participate is a little like choosing not to vote. It does not give you a right to complain about the outcome. If your issue has not been raised with an auditor, they of course may not find evidence of it in their examination of the forest management operations.
FSC puts the concerns of stakeholders and the responses to or resolution of those concerns front and centre, and seeks to achieve a common understanding and dialogue between people with different positions. Its processes are only as good as the participation that is a natural complement to the auditing process.
What is not able to be taken into account by an auditor when submitting feedback?
Forest Managers are seeking to obtain certification according to a standard – this will be advised when they go out to consultation. The three chambers of the international membership have set the relevant standard through a consultation process. So, comments about what the standard should say or should not certify are outside the ambit of what an auditor can consider. An auditor is simply assessing whether a standard has been complied with or not.
In order to effectively engage with an audit process, your feedback should relate to the content of the relevant standard.
I don’t think the standard is right or appropriate. How do I feed that back?
If you have concerns that FSC standards are not reflecting what you consider responsible forest management to look like, then the only way to change this is from the inside.
FSC International members vote on the International Standards and are involved in consultation processes. FSC Australia members have the decision making power in relation to the FSC Australian National Forestry Standard. If you would like your voice to be heard, then it is important to support FSC and become a Member to obtain a vote and say. This is how standards are shaped.