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Thursday, 08 August 2019
Revised pesticides policy released by FSC International

Caterpillar (© Credit: Luke Bruggar)© Credit: Luke Bruggar

Colin Maunder of Timberlands and the FSC Pesticides Working Group explains the key improvements in the revised Pesticides Policy

FSC International has finalised the revised FSC Pesticides Policy, which came into effect on 1 August with a one year transition period.

Colin Maunder is the Forest Risk Manager at Timberlands, a member of the Pesticides Working Group, and a New Zealander. Colin chatted to FSC Australia to tell us about the key changes and improvements in the revised policy.

As Colin explained, “for forest managers committing to FSC comes with many difficult challenges. For many in Australia and New Zealand, the challenge of managing our many pests in accordance with the FSC pesticides requirements has proven to be one of the more difficult challenges.”

What does the Policy aim to achieve?

The short-term objectives of the FSC Pesticides Policy are to:

  • Promote best practices to minimise associated risks to human health and the environment when using chemical pesticides;
  • Reduce the overall volume and number of chemical pesticides in use; and,
  • Eliminate the use of the most hazardous chemical pesticides.

The long-term aim of the Policy is to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides in FSC certified forests.

Key differences in the revised policy

The key changes in the revised FSC Pesticides Policy are:

  • Phase out of pesticide derogations
  • Shift from centralised to localised decision making on risk
  • The requirement on forest managers to conduct an Environmental and Social Risk Assessment if they must use a hazardous chemical pesticide

FSC International will continue to determine which materials fall into the three categories of Highly Hazardous Pesticides: prohibited, highly restricted, or restricted.
Download the FSC List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides.

The FSC pesticides (C10.7) requirements contain three different components (elimination, prohibition and effects). Colin talked us through the improved approaches in the revised policy.


“Forest managers will already be familiar with the need to apply Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid or eliminate pesticide use. Previously the requirements focused on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP) and consequent derogations.”
“I believe the new policy is clearer in requiring the forest manager to step through a range of pest solutions before a pesticide can be selected, with onus on least hazard or risk. “


“Previously the use of over two hundred HHP was prohibited unless derogation was granted by FSC International. Under the new policy forty eight of the worst pesticides (plus those containing heavy metals and dioxins) are prohibited and can only be used in an emergency or by government order.”

Environmental and Social Risk Assessment and the use of other pesticides

“The remainder of pesticides (highly hazardous or otherwise) can be used, but only after a hierarchal IPM and environmental and social risk assessment (ESRA) exercise determines these as the best method.”

“The revised policy also improves local involvement in decision making, as the Standard Development Group (SDG) determines the conditions for using HHP.”

Managing effects

Measures relating to managing effects of pesticide use have generated discussion, in particular regarding the introduction of ESRA at the national, forest estate and operational level.

To Colin, the introduction of the ESRA requirement simply formalises a process that was always required by FSC criterion 10.7.

“I expect that the revised policy should help clarify what I consider has always been an FSC requirement: that the organisation ‘shall prevent, mitigate, and / or repair damage to environmental values and human health’”

Colin is hopeful about the potential for the policy to reduce the adverse effects of pesticides, but remains realistic about the challenges ahead. “Whilst I am pleased about the elimination of the onerous and contentious derogations, I do not anticipate or seek an easy ride.”

“As a forest manager I expect to see a collective desire make this policy work to reduce pesticide use and their adverse effects, proactively stimulated by some different and better thinking.”

What is an Environmental and Social Risk Assessment?

An Environmental and Social Risk Assessment is a process designed to predict, assess and review the likely or actual environmental and social effects of a well-defined action, evaluate alternatives, and design appropriate mitigation, management and monitoring measures.
In the context of the FSC Pesticides Policy, it relates to chemical pesticide use. For more information on ESRAs refer to pages 8 and 20-46 of the FSC Pesticides Policy.

Useful links
To download the FSC Pesticides Policy and supporting resources, please head to our Pesticides page.
More on the FSC Pesticides policy from FSC International.

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