FSC-certified forests

FSC-certified forests are managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards. More than 200 million hectares of forest are managed to FSC standards around the world.

Swaffham Woods (c) FSC UK / Nick Ford
FSC UK / Nick Ford

Why the FSC label matters for forests, people, and wildlife

This short video from WWF highlights the importance of responsible forest management.

Principles for responsible forest management

Our standards for forest management are based on internationally agreed principles and criteria. Our principles require organisations seeking certification to:

FSC forest in Mexico (c) FSC IC
FSC IC
  • Principle 1

    Comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements.

  • Principle 2

    Maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of workers.

  • Principle 3

    Identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.

  • Principle 4

    Contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.

  • Principle 5

    Efficiently manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits.

  • Principle 6

    Maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.

  • Principle 7

    Have a management plan consistent with policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities. The management plan shall be implemented and kept up to date based on monitoring information in order to promote adaptive management. The associated planning and procedural documentation shall be sufficient to guide staff, inform affected stakeholders and interested stakeholders and to justify management decisions.

  • Principle 8

    Demonstrate that, progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit, are monitored and evaluated proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities, in order to implement adaptive management.

  • Principle 9

    Maintain and/or enhance the High Conservation Values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach.

  • Principle 10

    Ensure that management activities conducted by or for the organisation for the management unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with the organisation’s economic, environmental and social policies and objectives and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.

Hafren Forest (c) FSC UK

Hafren Forest

A working forest in Wales

Hafren Forest, in Mid Wales, is close to the sources of both the Wye and Severn rivers and contains more than 34km of public rights of way. The forest covers more than 2,800 hectares (nearly 4000 football pitches) and produces in excess of 29,000 cubic metres of wood each year.

FSC certification has led to more consideration of conservation objectives, greater public consultation on plans for the forest's management, greater protection for soils and waterways and a reduction in pesticide use. 

12,000 people visit the forest each year, some of whom are drawn by the osprey nesting site, one of just a handful of active sites in Wales for the rare migratory birds.

Maya Biosphere Reserve

Community management, thriving forests

The Maya Biosphere Reserve, in Guatemala, is the largest complex of protected areas in Central America. It is home to more than 1,400 plant and 450 animal species, including jaguars, pumas, tapirs, howler monkeys, alligators, and macaws. Occupying about 2.1 million hectares, the Reserve is split into units, some of which are designated as strictly protected, whilst others can be harvested. FSC certification is a requirement for maintaining a forest management concession in the Reserve and covers more than 476,000 hectares. 

Long-term, responsible forest management has produced a number of benefits, including, almost zero deforestation (0.4%), reduced child malnutrition and increased school attendance rates in communities, more than 1.5 and up to 11.28 jaguars per 100 km² (the highest reported values ​​of the species in Guatemala), and a significant reduction in the incidence of forest fires.

Howler monkey, Maya Biosphere Reserve, Carmelita, Guatemala (c) Dimitry B via Unsplash

FSC-certified forests in the UK

FSC-certified forests in the UK, which are certified against the FSC UK national forest stewardship standard, include publicly-owned forests, privately-owned forests, local authority woodlands, community woods, and forests owned or managed by charities. 

All FSC forest management certificates are included in the FSC certificate database.