Strides made to protect the world’s forests, but tropical forests continue to be a challenge
Seville, Spain (8 September 2014) – “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last 20 years. We have come a long way, but we can achieve even more. And the World’s forests need that.”
This statement was made by Kim Carstensen, Director General of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ahead of the organization’s official celebration of its 20th anniversary, at its triennial General Assembly in Seville, Spain.
FSC was founded in 1994 after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro failed to address the challenge of deforestation. Since the Rio Summit, the world has lost seven percent of its forest cover. While some countries in temperate regions have seen deforestation rates stabilize, or even reverse, loss of forest cover remains a significant challenge, especially in tropical regions where FSC’s influence remains limited.
“There are many tools needed to prevent deforestation in tropical forest countries. One of these tools is certification,” Carstensen explained. “We currently have 20 million hectares certified in tropical timber countries, and about 10% of the total FSC certified forest is in the tropics. This is not nearly enough. But we do know that those 20 million hectares are being managed in such a way that is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. We need to work to increase that 20 million hectares substantially.”
The reasons for this deforestation had little to do with the forests themselves. Tropical deforestation was mainly caused by conversion of forest for palm oil cultivation, beef grazing, soya production, and all manner of other agricultural activities. Weaker governance and often conflict in many tropical forest countries was also responsible for deforestation. Plantation establishment played a role in some settings, but FSC was seeing promising developments towards more sustainable approaches, particularly where certification played a role.
After 20 years in existence, FSC is the world’s strongest certification, in terms of global reach, robustness of certification criteria and number of businesses involved in the system. Over 180 million hectares are FSC certified. The organisation works with 150,000 small holders around the world, and is increasingly working with indigenous groups who live in and around certified forests. Recently, FSC formed the Permanent Indigenous Peoples’ Committee to ensure that indigenous people have a say in the way forests are managed.
The General Assembly is FSC’s top decision-making body, where the members propose, debate and vote on policy that guides the organization. As a member-led democracy, FSC is unique among forest certification systems.
About The Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent non-governmental organization that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. FSC was created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from well-managed forests. FSC sets standards by which forests are certified, offering credible verification to people who are buying wood and wood products. Currently more than 175 million hectares and 25,000 companies are certified to FSC standards world-wide. For more information visit ic.fsc.org/.