FSC Forest Week: 24 – 30 September 2022
“Choose Forests. Choose FSC™” is the theme of the new, week-long global awareness campaign from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Formerly known as FSC™ Friday, the switch from a single day to a full week is designed to advance consumer awareness of sustainable forestry and responsible consumption.
From Friday 24th September until Friday 30th September, we’re likely to see a range of activity from FSC™ licence holders as they showcase their commitment to sustainable forestry.
What does this mean to us as consumers? It should help us become more aware of the brands and businesses that sell responsibly sourced wood-based products from FSC™ certified forests and how the choices we make can affect the environment.
While FSC™ certified products can be readily identified by the FSC™ trademark they carry, it might be surprising to discover the broad range of products that contain ingredients that originate from trees, as we shall explore later in this article.
What it means when a product carries the FSC™ trademark
A product carrying the FSC™ trademark is made with materials from a forest managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards. Over 200 million hectares of the world’s forests are FSC™ certified. Trees from FSC™ certified forests are harvested responsibly so there is no net loss of forest over time. The FSC™ certificate also ensures that forests with irreplaceable values, such as old-growth forests, are identified and maintained.
A recent study by the FSC™ found that six in 10 people in the UK assume that some, or even all, of the wood-based products they buy are from sustainable sources.  The unfortunate reality is, however, that if a wood-based product doesn’t carry the FSC™ logo – or a logo from one of the other reputable organisations and bodies from around the world that promotes and supports sustainable forestry and production of paper products (see list below) – then you cannot be sure the product has been sourced responsibly.
Why it’s important to choose wood-based products from a responsible source
More than 12 million hectares of forest are lost each year as a result of illegal logging.  Choosing products that have been responsibly sourced means choosing to protect the world’s forests. The FSC™ explains the important role forests play:
“Forests regulate our climate, clean the air we breathe, and filter the water we drink. They also provide habitat for more than two-thirds of terrestrial wildlife and plants. They are one of our most important resources, offering a renewable supply of the materials and goods we need for a more sustainable future.”
Wood-based products to look out for
Not all wood-based products are obvious, and as businesses look for more environmentally-friendly alternatives to synthetic materials, we’re likely to see increasing use of wood-based materials appearing in the products we buy. Choosing products that carry a recognised logo or trademark such as FSC™ to indicate they have come from a sustainable source will therefore become even more important.
Among the types of products to look out for a trademark on are:
- Timber – used in the construction industry; if you’re having an extension built, be sure to request that the builder uses a certified timber
- Fashion – wood-based fibres include viscose, lyocell and modal
- Rubber – natural rubber products such as wellington boots, shoe soles and even balloons
- Non-timber forest products – these include bamboo, bark, cork, and even foodstuffs such as cinnamon, tea and honey
Other labels to look out for
As well as FSC™, there are other organisations and bodies from around the world that promote and support sustainable forestry and production of paper products. Some of the more common ones are:
Blue Angel – an environmental label in Germany that has been awarded to particularly environmentally friendly products and services since 1978.
EU Ecolabel – recognised across Europe and worldwide, the EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction, to production, distribution and disposal.
SFI – North American Sustainable Forestry Initiative operates in the U.S. and Canada and works across four pillars: standards, conservation, community, and education.
Nordic Ecolabel – The Nordic Ecolabel or Nordic swan is the official sustainability ecolabel for products from the Nordic countries.
PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organisation which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification.
Rainforest Alliance – its little green frog is a symbol of environmental, social, and economic sustainability and can be found on farm and forest products around the world.
For more information about FSC™ Forest Week and the work of the Forest Stewardship Council, visit https://uk.fsc.org