Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the benefits that we obtain from nature and natural processes.

The forests and woodlands in the UK provide a broad range of ecosystem services from regulating the flow and purification of water to maintaining soil’s productive capacity as well as capturing carbon and providing recreation services. These woodland ecosystem services are essential to the economy and society, both within the UK and globally, with their value estimated at £3.3 billion in 2017 (ONS, 2020).

Amy Willox, Outreach Manager (Forests & Ecosystem Services)
Cwmcarn forest (c) FSC UK_Robert Greenaway

FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure

The Ecosystem Services Procedure builds on FSC forest management certification by allowing forest managers or owners to make specific, credible claims on how their management activities are contributing to maintaining and/or enhancing various ecosystem services in their forests. Impacts can be verified for the following:

Savernake forest (c) FSC UK_M.More
  • biodiversity conservation

  • carbon storage and sequestration

  • watershed services

  • soil conservation

  • recreation services

Most forests or woodlands provide multiple ecosystem services, yet while markets currently attach values to timber and other tangible forest products, and to some ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, the delivery of other ecosystem services has largely gone unrecognised and unrewarded. As a forest manager or owner, the Ecosystem Services Procedure can be used to recognise the diverse benefits of your management practices and identify potential payments or investments for maintaining services that are not recognised by traditional markets. It also allows forest managers to seek rewards for the services provided by forests or woodlands before they have reached maturity.

Achieving ecosystem services verification

Only forests or woodlands that are covered by FSC forest management certification are eligible for ecosystem service impact verification using the FSC Ecosystem Service Procedure.

The verification process is undertaken by the same certification body as for forest management certification. It can take place at the same time as forest management audits and can be managed through a group certification scheme. Verified impacts will be included in the forest management certificate and certification report.

Impacts can be verified for one or any combination of the five ecosystem services, dependent on the services of interest for promotion or investment. As FSC forest management standards provide adequate social and environmental safeguards, it is acceptable to verify positive impacts only for the ecosystem services of interest: compliance with the standards ensures you are not degrading the others.

The guidance document (available to download below) outlines the seven-step step process, requirements and methodologies for verifying ecosystem service impacts.

Ecosystem service claims

  1. What are ecosystem service claims?

    Once impacts are verified by an FSC-accredited certification body, ecosystem service claims can be used by forest managers to promote their positive impacts and attract payments, investments or other rewards from interested parties.

    We can support forest managers and owners by providing guidance on the process of verifying impacts and exploring potential market rewards.

  2. How can businesses use ecosystem service claims?

    FSC verified ecosystem service claims will help financial sponsors demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

    Claims provide governments, investors, buyers and businesses with the assurance that the impacts they are paying for preserve the sustainable provision of ecosystem services.

    They can also be used by retailers and other companies to promote FSC 100% products from forests with verified ecosystem services impacts.

The French lottery company betting on biodiversity

Episode 1: Discovery


Emmanuel Ripout, Director of IP Forêt Services, explains the group's environmental approach and the implementation of the first French ecosystem services project.

Episode 2: Challenges


Elodie Vanhal, Sustainable Management Manager at IP Forêt Services, and Hélène Bay, Forest Technician at IP Forêt Services, explain the importance of preserving the benefits provided by the forest.

Episode 3: Financing


Christine Prouin, CSR Performance Manager at the Française Des Jeux lottery group, explains their motivation to support this 10-year project.

Ecosystems Services Procedure and Guidance

Ecosystem Services Procedure: Impact Demonstration and Market Tools (FSC-PRO-30-006 EN V1-2)
PDF, Size: 1.03MB
Guidance for Demonstrating Ecosystem Services Impacts (FSC-GUI-30-006 V1-1)
PDF, Size: 3.36MB