Certification: The stamp of good wood

Page - December 17, 2008
Credible certification gives a guarantee that a forest or plantation is 'well-managed' and meeting recognised international environmental and social standards.

Sustainably harvested wood bearing the Forest Stewardship Council logo.

Certification is an inspection process that assesses the quality of forest management on the ground as well as tracking timber and wood products through a chain of custody from the raw material to the finished product.

Standards of certification vary and many industry certification schemes are little more than 'greenwash'. So it is best to choose timber certified to the internationally recognised standards of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes responsible management of the world's forests. It sets the international standard for credible forest management and chain of custody certification. Its forest certification system remains the most widely recognised and best regarded in the world. The FSC has certified more than 100 million hectares of forest and plantations in 80 countries since 1993 and is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation.

Greenpeace works with the FSC to ensure it continues to provide a credible guarantee and to promote it to consumers as a solution to forest destruction.

The FSC is a credible certification scheme because:

  • It makes a difference in the forest - it is the only international certification and labelling system which uses globally recognised performance standards it is an independent 'third-party' scheme with rigorous, transparent and participatory assessments
  • It is supported by a broad range of key environmental organisations, social movements and economic players, as well as consumers.
  • Credibly certified forest and plantation products guarantee that:
  • Forests are well managed to ensure continued benefits for future generations, with biodiversity maintained and minimal impact on soils and waterways.
  • The rights of indigenous people are protected. Forest management is legal and does not use genetically engineered organisms.
  • Local communities living in or close to the forest benefit from its management and use.

Before buying timber, ask your merchant if it is certified by the FSC certification scheme. FSC certified wood may carry the distinctive FSC logo (as seen in the image above).

Recycled timber

Recycled or salvaged timber is another option for consumers. It is important to ask the timber supplier for documented verification to prove where it is from.