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What's the FSC-ing Deal?

Why Forest Stewardship Council certification is better than the rest (for now).

Frank Locantore By Frank Locantore
02/05/2009 -10:29 AM

In my blog on Better Ingredients, an associate questioned my bias and support for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. I, as we all, have biases. Giving preference to FSC is one of them, and I'm glad that I was "called out" on it. Do I think that FSC is perfect? No. Is it possible for me to support other certification schemes? If they meet stringent, authentic, transparent and comprehensive standards, yes. The following are some of my reasons for supporting FSC:

  1. FSC does not allow genetically-modified (GMO) trees to be certified.
  2. FSC has a transparent and participatory process wherein anyone can join their economic, environmental, or social "chambers," and each chamber elects an equal number of representatives to the FSC board.
  3. Each independent analysis that I've reviewed comparing FSC to other certification schemes demonstrates a preference for FSC. There is a helpful chart comparing the various certification schemes on pages 18 and 19 of World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) Global Forest and Trade Network publication, Keep It Legal.

I've kept this blog post short and simple, but I do recognize the complexity of the issue. Standards are evaluated frequently and I give credit to certification schemes like FSC and SFI for continually improving. However, at the end of the day, I still give preference to FSC. I won't claim to be the best expert on this so I've invited representatives from competing U.S. certification bodies FSC-US and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to make their case themselves. I have let them each see this blog in advance so that they can respond to any of my comments.

Form your own opinion by reading directly from FSC and SFI why they feel their certification schemes are preferable. I hope you engage in a dialogue by posting comments and questions below ...


Frank Locantore By Frank Locantore -- Frank Locantore directs the non-profit Green America Better Paper Project (formerly the Co-op America Magazine PAPER Project). The organization assists publishers in creating and implementing environmentally responsible paper use practices and promotes environmentally produced magazines through the Web, the Aveda and Awards Programs, and bookstore promotions with Barnes and Noble and others. Get more info, or by email,

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