From my first day with Ontario Nature, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been a big part of my work. Though I was familiar with FSC certification, my knowledge was limited to associating the green “check tree” logo with environmentally conscious paper products. My involvement with FSC over the past year opened my eyes to what the certification represents and how important it is for the future of forests around the world.
The FSC is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible standards of forest management. Forest management companies (organizations) can apply for FSC certification to show that they manage their forests responsibly. Certified organizations can include the FSC logo on their products to demonstrate their social and environmental consciousness.
To become certified, an organization must meet the FSC standard for their geographic area. FSC standards evaluate forest management activities against 10 principles, with specific criteria and indicators under each principle. Ontario Nature contributed to the development of the new Canadian standard, which aligns the 4 standards that currently exist for different regions in Canada with revised principles and criteria.
Our contributions to the new standard focus on strengthening provisions for species at risk, specifically caribou and songbirds, and protected areas. We aim to ensure key species and ecosystems are adequately protected in balance with forestry, a key industry for northern Ontario. We also commented on these topics during the Annual Audits of several forest management units; an FSC requirement to ensure that organizations maintain the environmental and social standards they originally demonstrated.
Currently almost 65% of managed forests in Ontario are FSC certified, totalling over 18.4 million hectares. This number will increase as more forest management companies recognize that environmental and social objectives can be achieved alongside economic goals. They are not mutually exclusive.
Through our work with FSC, we hope to support and strengthen the equality, transparency and credibility that FSC is known for internationally. By voluntarily committing to the FSC certification process, organizations agree to maintain a high standard of environmental, social and economic accountability. Organizations also commit to positively promoting FSC and upholding the collaborative and fair foundations of the certification. We will continue to support FSC and hold forest management companies accountable for their promises.
Mallory Vanier was Ontario Nature’s Boreal Program intern.