The Forest Stewardship Council was founded to secure greater transparency and environmental accountability from a powerful and poorly regulated $500 billion a year global forest products industry – an industry notorious for its cut and run destructive logging practices around the world. Rainforest Action Network (RAN) - along with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace - was a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in 1993, and we remain an active and outspoken member.
The FSC has a balanced system of governance that divides voting power equally between environmental groups, social and Indigenous members and industry interests (RAN is a member of the environmental chamber). As a result of this governance structure, environmental and social stakeholders are better able to secure agreements from industry on environmental and social objectives in FSC standards and policy than in other certification systems. Nonetheless, many controversial issues are still outstanding and hotly debated within the FSC, including the certification of industrial logging in primary rainforests and weak policing of Controlled Wood inputs.
RAN’s membership in the FSC is not an endorsement of everything that the FSC does, nor should it be represented as such. We believe continued lobbying of the FSC to raise its standards can make progress towards our rainforest protection goals. Our FSC membership is premised on this perspective. RAN is actively pushing the FSC for stronger rules to protect intact and old growth forests and other High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs), to respect and uphold Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities’ rights, and to protect biodiversity and the climate.
In no uncertain terms, RAN strongly opposes the industrial logging of primary and old growth forests and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities. Our participation and work in the FSC is guided by these goals. And, we think that engagement with the FSC offers opportunities for advancing these goals. Despite its shortcomings, we believe the FSC is a strategic tool for our work in the marketplace and to achieve policy reforms.
RAN is and will continue to weigh the efficacy of the FSC, and our role in it, based on our assessment of its integrity and usefulness for campaigns to help secure protection of forest ecosystems and Indigenous peoples’ rights.