Kumi Naidoo in the FSC General Assembly expert panel. © Greenpeace

This week, Greenpeace has been squirreled away in meetings with members of the FSC's General Assembly, the membership body that makes decisions about how FSC is governed. To be frank, we've been pretty critical of FSC over the last few years. While we've never stopped believing that FSC is the only credible forest certification system that can deliver responsible forest products, we've seen serious problems with implementation of FSC's principles in the forest.

This week however, FSC made big strides. The general assembly agreed, with an overwhelming majority, that FSC and FSC certified companies need to protect the vast majority of the world's Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) across FSC forests. Intact forests are the world's remaining large pristine forests, which are critical for storing carbon, providing habitat to endangered species, and a livelihood for forest peoples. FSC will start to work at a regional and national level to secure this protection, while respecting the rights of indigenous people and forest communities, as well as allowing some flexibility for industry.

It wasn't easy – we spent days drafting language in a way that was workable for representatives from social groups and industry, but still set a high bar for protecting these pristine forests. Our volunteers gave the negotiations some Greenpeace flair by distributing IFL cocktails to participants, and creating a colourful aerial IFL leaf display at lunch time. We're pleased that our efforts worked because we believe that - if implemented - this direction will make a major difference for forests within the FSC system.

We are thrilled to see FSC take this important step in forest conservation and the development of alternative models for forest management taking into account the interest of indigenous peoples.

Judy Rodrigues is a Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace International.