Wednesday, 23 January 2019
FSC US: Priorities for the year ahead
January 23, 2019
By: Corey Brinkema
The Forest Stewardship Council U.S. enters 2019 with fresh wind in our sails. Corporate partnerships continue to grow along with consumer and business demand. Confidence in FSC as the world’s most trusted forest certification also remains strong, leading new people to our doors.
Yet our work is far from done. In the year ahead, we will continue to place a top priority on driving value to certified companies, especially in solid wood sectors where stimulating greater demand and connecting interested buyers with sellers has been challenging.
To address this priority, we will continue to build an online marketplace to foster easier connections between buyers and sellers of FSC building materials. In 2018, we launched Woodfinder - we’ve been pleased with initial results and feedback from the building materials sector. We will continue to invest in this platform, and explore ways to deploy similar solutions for consumer products.
We are also adding market development staff in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest, which will dramatically increase our ability to serve certificate holders and partners. These new team members will allow us to better listen, learn and act to serve and help expand FSC markets.
As for FSC policy and standards, our focus remains on maintaining and enhancing the health of forests and forest communities, while improving the efficiency, efficacy and auditability of our requirements.
In 2019 we are ramping up the revision of our National Forest Stewardship (NFSS) Standard. This multi-year process will bring the U.S. NFSS standard into alignment with FSC’s new global Principles & Criteria, which have been updated since our last revision in 2010. While stakeholder input will provide the basis for much of this revision, including leadership from a technical working group, we will be focusing on ways our standard addresses climate change adaptation to ensure relevance and impact in the years ahead.
Final approval from FSC International is expected in Q1 for our Controlled Wood National Risk Assessment. The trade of forest products in the United States, with often long and complex supply chains between domestic forests and end products, has posed challenges in aligning to FSC’s procedures for developing national risk assessments. As a result, FSC US has taken a novel approach to the development of our National Risk Assessment, which required us to provide additional assurance and rationale to FSC International. We are wrapping up that work now and expect approval of the National Risk Assessment soon.
Finally, I want to emphasize the work of a partner – the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance – which is developing a smallholder access program. We know that barriers remain for the smallest family woodland owners to engage with the benefits of FSC certification. In the coming year, the Alliance will begin piloting a more focused approach for certification of responsible forestry by woodland owners under 100 hectares in the Southern Appalachian hardwood region. We see a lot of promise in their work - as an innovative way to ensure forest stewardship, drive value to landowners and bring additional certified supply into markets.
FSC is making real progress in the United States and will continue building on this success in the coming year. We know there are still very real challenges, but we also feel a renewed and shared sense of purpose – not just among our growing team but also among our certificate holders, members and partners. We look forward to working with you to continue building markets for products from responsibly managed forests. I wish you all an impactful 2019!