Delivering on the Controlled Wood strategy

By Morten Brodde, FSC Denmark 

One of the core objectives of FSC’s strategy for FSC Mix Products and Controlled Wood is to increase the area of FSC-certified forests and reduce reliance on uncertified material. To implement this, the first draft of standard proposes that forests with Controlled Wood Forest Management certification shall be required to move to full FSC Forest Management certification after five years. This change and other changes in the draft FSC’s Controlled Wood standard and their implications were the topic of the side meeting “The Evolution of Controlled Wood for Forest Management Enterprises” at FSC’s General Assembly.  

From old standard to FSC stepping-stone 

Udit Khare, Policy Manager, FSC International kicked off the side meeting with a brief overview of the FSC Controlled Wood concept. The Controlled Wood Forest Management standard is currently undergoing a review process, because the current standard is old and to deliver on a key component of Strategy for FSC Mix products and Controlled Wood. The strategy states that Controlled Wood Forest Management certification shall act as a stepping-stone towards FSC Forest Management certification. 

At the side meeting Udit Khare highlighted the main proposed changes in the first draft of the revised Controlled Wood standard for forest management and launched the first public consultation on the draft requirements. The standard is aligned with the relevant FSC International Generic Indicators (IGIs) - the starting point for developing National Forest stewardship standards and the Policy to Address Conversion. Udit revealed one of the bigger changes in this way:  

“You will see that there is going to be a mandatory step-up mechanism, which will be required for all certificate holders after one certification cycle, meaning five years”. 

Other introduced changes are including requirements for Non-Timber Forests Products (NTFPs) like bamboo and rubber and on monitoring and assessment. 

Diving into the changes 

Next on the floor was a panel, that included representatives from the working group of the revision of the Controlled Wood standard for forest management and Ms Prilli Soetantyo who is a CoC certificate holder. They were asked to reflect on the proposed changes. 

Currently, the Controlled Standard is an international standard with no adaptability. But this has changed in the proposed standard.  

“One of the key challenges is how these indicators, incorporated into the draft, will be translated to actions at national level and regional level in the field”, explained T.R. Manoharan. 

Richard Donovan revealed the rationale behind not including Smallholder specific requirements in the draft:  

“There are other better mechanisms in the FSC’s normative framework to support the small and low intensity managed forest (SLIMF). The Continuous Improvement Procedure launched in 2022 is one such initiative supporting SLIMFs in achieving forest management certification.”

Speaking about the potential of the introduced changes Gabriel Bolton, Senior Programme Manager Forestry at Preferred by Nature, explained:  

“This will create an entry point for folks that are not quite ready yet and by continuous improvement they will be able to develop their systems over time to meet that high bar of FSC forest management certification.” 

Prilli Soetantyo, CEO at FSC-certified PT Interkayu Nusantara, a company that produces building components and is one of the major buyers from largest CW-FM certificate holder in Indonesia, appreciates the Controlled Wood efforts to bring more FSC-certified wood into the market. She pointed to the fact that customers want to buy FSC 100% products, but that there are not enough materials to meet this demand.  

Controlled Wood a hot topic 

Controlled Wood has been a hot topic among FSC stakeholders for a long time and today FSC and the panel received many comments on the revision of the Controlled Wood standard. Concerns, suggestions, and other comments.  

One member stated that with increased requirements in the proposed Controlled Wood standard there would need to be a forcing mechanism in FSC’s system - for instance in the Controlled Wood standard for Chain-of-Custody certified companies - if more forests are to choose Controlled Wood certification. Related to this another member raised lack of incentives as a challenge.  

Richard Donovan replied to this: “We know that the incentives must be there, we got to create more, and we also need two others thing: companies at the buying end to be pushing for it and saying we need it, we want it, and we will pay for it. And secondly, we need training when the standard is finished." Udit Khare confirmed that incentives for Controlled Wood Forest Management certification will also be looked at when the Requirements for Sourcing FSC Controlled Wood will be revised. 

Other members were concerned about the Controlled Wood Forest Management Standards ability to secure social and workers’ rights. To that Coen van der Veer, BWI - Building & Wood Workers' International, replied: “If you look at the standard draft that will be published you will see that there has been no compromise on the essential human rights”. Coen added that established minimum wage standards in the countries and in the industry must be respected.