The following unacceptable activities are incompatible with our mission to protect forests for future generations:
- Destruction of High Conservation Values
- Use of genetically modified organisms
- Illegal logging
- Human and traditional rights violations
- Workers’ rights violations
All concerns we receive are subject to the same rigorous process. Action is only taken against an organization where credible allegations are confirmed by our independent investigators. We do not take the investigation or any subsequent action lightly.
01. Concern raised: We rely on stakeholders to alert us to any activities which could be a cause for concern
02. Allegation screened: All allegations are screened to make sure the information is sufficient and that the allegation will be handled by the correct entity
03. Investigation conducted: We take investigations very seriously and conduct them thoroughly
04. Decision taken: Decisions are taken based on the evidence and outcome of the investigation
05. Outcome finalized: Organizations involved in unacceptable activities have their certificates terminated and are excluded from participation in the FSC scheme
Our stakeholders play a vital role in alerting us to destructive forestry activities. If you are concerned about the activities of an organization connected to FSC, we want to hear from you.
We look for credible evidence of widespread wrongdoing before triggering an investigation. And our primary focus is on solutions to concerns raised; we’ll only start an investigation if the organization hasn’t been able to stop destructive activities and correct what went wrong.
Why are these activities unacceptable for FSC?
Our mission is to protect forests for future generations. And our membership is made up of companies striving for environmentally and socially responsible practices – of environmental defenders, trade unions, human rights campaigners and those fighting for indigenous peoples.
The activities we prohibit are totally opposed to the mission of our organization and the members who make it. There is no place for this behaviour in FSC, whether activities happen in the forests of a certified forestry company or the non-certified forests of one of their affiliates.
Who can raise concerns about destructive activities?
There are no requirements as to who can submit a complaint or raise concerns in the FSC system.
While anybody may share concerns, the information submitted must include necessary and relevant information and evidence for FSC to take the appropriate action. This required information is noted on the submission forms and processes, and defendants are encouraged to provide as much detailed information as possible so that FSC can make an informed decision as to whether the complaint will be accepted.
Who investigates when credible allegations are raised?
FSC membership is comprised of three chambers: economic, environmental and social. In building an investigation team, a single member from each chamber is selected and then approved by those raising concerns and the defendant organization to ensure impartiality and broad expertise.
While not a requirement, the investigation team will typically include FSC members from the country where wrongdoing is alleged. The investigation team is then not only uniquely qualified through their professional expertise, but also has a greater understanding of the national context.
Who decides whether an organization should be excluded from the FSC scheme?
The investigation team delivers their report to FSC, complete with the evidence and level to which each allegation was verified. This report is presented to the FSC Board of Directors who make the final decision on whether the organization in question should be excluded from the FSC scheme.
What are the consequences of exclusion from the FSC scheme?
Upon being excluded from the FSC scheme the organization’s trademark license agreements are immediately terminated, all certificates are withdrawn and they are blocked from further certification and association such as membership.
This exclusion extends beyond the organization found to engage in unacceptable activities, applying to any parent, subsidiary or sister company connected by more than 51% ownership. All companies are blocked from any FSC certification until a complete remedy and reform process has been fulfilled and all requirements met.
Can excluded organizations re-enter the FSC scheme?
Excluded organizations can re-enter the FSC scheme after exhibiting the fulfilment of conditions addressing remedy caused by past harm and reformation. Only after concrete proof that these requirements have been fulfilled can the organizations potentially re-enter the FSC scheme.
Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC (FSC-POL-01-004)
The shared commitment to FSC’s values, and our mandate to take action when these values are not upheld, comes from an FSC document called the Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC. Anyone who enters into an agreement with us, signing up for certification or becoming an FSC member, commits to avoid destructive forestry activities by signing this policy. They make a commitment not only for their individual company, but for all companies in their organization, whether that’s a parent company involved in the timber trade or a sister company running agricultural operations.