FSC CERTIFICATION OF TROPICAL FORESTS
As the biodiversity hotspots of the world, tropical forests are vital to the existence of millions of indigenous people, and possess a unique set of social and environmental attributes.
Overwhelming demands from society place enormous pressure on tropical forests, and this continues to escalate with emerging challenges. FSC certification can offer forest managers in the tropics financially competitive alternatives to poor practices, illegal logging, and land conversion for cattle ranching or bio-fuel production.
Whatever the management objectives – whether for timber production or biodiversity conservation – engagement in the FSC system requires that tropical forests are managed according to agreed principles for environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest stewardship. FSC rules and procedures are developed through strong multi-stakeholder processes. They are supported and endorsed by social, environmental and economic constituents in the Global South and Global North alike.
To withdraw from applying FSC’s standards to logging in the tropics would not end the further exploration of tropical forests, but only sacrifice a tool to promote equitable consideration of social and environmental issues in forestry. It is in tropical forests where FSC standards can result in substantial social and environmental improvements and ultimately support the conservation and long-term maintenance of these forests.
FSC promotes the equitable incorporation of social and environmental considerations when decisions are taken to manage forests. Under FSC certification, civil and indigenous rights are respected, areas of high social and environmental conservation value are maintained or enhanced, natural forests are not converted, highly hazardous pesticides and genetically modified trees are prohibited, and harvesting must meet national laws and international treaties.
It is in the tropics where FSC standards can result in substantial social and environmental improvements and ultimately support the conservation and long-term maintenance of these forests.