FSC must protect Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs)

Along with other FSC members across its chambers, Greenpeace is working to achieve the following key improvements in FSC operations and procedures so that the environmental and social values of forests are maintained under the FSC seal of approval.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded 20 years ago to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests, without compromising their health for future generations. Unfortunately, this balance has not been achieved in all FSC-certified forests, and particularly in large Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs).

IFLs are the world's remaining large unfragmented forest areas undisturbed by roads and industrial development. They have extremely important conservation value as they store a disproportionately high amount of global forest carbon, are large enough to sustain their biological diversity, and are critical for the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples living within and adjacent to them. They are large enough to host both far-ranging top predators as well as other wildlife, and enable many plant and animal species to adapt to climate change. They also provide crucial ecosystem services such as regulating water and nutrient cycles.

The values and ecosystem services that IFLs provide are being exposed to severe and often irreversible damage when fragmented and/or destroyed through continued expansion of industrial logging and its infrastructure. Most deforestation begins with logging, roadbuilding and fragmentation.

The FSC currently certifies logging that fragments and degrades IFLs, although its Principle 9 requires that management activities in High Conservation Value (HCV) forests maintain or enhance the attributes that define such forests. Unfortunately, the FSC still has no clear guidelines, steps and restrictions for forest management to ensure the maintenance of IFL values.

FSC must Act:

Until adequate global protection of IFLs is achieved:

  1. The FSC should only certify logging operations in HCV2/IFL areas in a forest region after:

    1. A comprehensive and representative protected area network has been established;

    2. Priority has been given to small-scale and low-impact community forest use wherever appropriate; and

    3. The core area of the IFL is protected and in the buffer around the core roadbuilding and other fragmentation impacts are avoided or minimised so that IFL values (see introduction) are not being harmed.

  2. FSC must broaden its services to include more forest conservation, protected areas and ecosystem services (e.g., water, soil stability, carbon storage) certification and promote restoration of degraded IFLs. Options to support HCV2 and IFL protection such as reduced certification fees and/or a fund that supports HCV2 protection should also be considered.

We urge FSC members, stakeholders and consumers to call on the FSC to increase its role in IFL protection.

By doing so the FSC will broaden its reach and influence, enable the FSC to embrace a full range of forest conservation management measures, continue to be the leader in global forest certification, and be a label consumers can trust.

If FSC does not set clear thresholds for IFL protection to ensure that companies comply with its standards, then its logo and its credibility will become diluted and serve as worthless 'greenwash,' indistinguishable from the other weak certification schemes like PEFC.

To review Greenpeace's complete set of recommendations for strengthening the FSC system and the FSC’s progress, please visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/FSC-at-risk