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Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 04 September 2019
Multiyear FSC Wood Demand Growth Strategy Completed, In Execution

September 4, 2019

While FSC has a strong track record of market development - particularly in pulp and paper - demand for FSC-certified wood products has remained comparatively limited. FSC US understands that by focusing on accelerating demand for FSC-certified wood-based products it can significantly improve its value proposition for both certified forest owners and the wood products supply chain, helping to support and grow the entire FSC system.

Accordingly, in mid 2018, FSC US began the development of a North America FSC-certified wood products demand growth strategy, which was completed in early 2019. Through this strategy, FSC and its core partners expect to benefit not only by creating a stronger collective understanding of overall challenges and opportunities, but also by identifying specific initiatives that must be undertaken to increase demand for FSC-certified wood-based products.

This project began in earnest at a professionally-moderated stakeholder workshop in Minneapolis, in conjunction with last year’s WWF Global Forest and Trade (GFTN) meeting. While the workshop was well-attended by GFTN members concerned with solid wood, it also included scores of industry and environmental stakeholders. Beginning with that workshop, and in subsequent conversations with an Advisory Group, FSC US clarified key challenges and opportunities to increase FSC’s market presence in construction and furniture, as well as in the forests that serve these industries. Subsequent to the workshop, a small team including Jason Grant (FSC US Board / Sierra Club), Amy Smith (WWF US Forests Team) and Chris McLaren (FSC US CMO) developed a draft strategy which was then progressively refined in collaboration with a number of key contributors, including Samantha Morrissey (Rainforest Alliance) and Corey Brinkema (President, FSC US).

The strategy prioritizes several actions to build markets for FSC wood products, organized thematically across three categories: 1) Value Proposition; 2) Demand; and 3) Supply.

  • Value Proposition: FSC must hone its pitch to business owners at the end of the value chain and to key decision makers; deliver it in different ways to reach and catalyze as many champions within target segments as possible to drive industry and market transformation, ultimately making FSC a market norm. It includes detailed definitions of tactics to reach both businesses and consumers, underscores the importance of elevating FSC as a climate solution in storytelling, and expressions of intent to gather and present impact data that shows strong evidence of FSC’s positive impacts as compared to business-as-usual forest management.
  • Demand: business and consumer demand must grow together to support a strong, resilient, and ever-expanding FSC system. It clarifies what is needed to change purchase habits and identifies initiatives to satisfy these needs; it also notes initiatives required to facilitate communication about FSC to consumers by market partners.
  • Supply: supporting companies in implementing policies with a preference for FSC-certified wood products is vital, particularly by facilitating the connection of supply to demand. For this purpose, it is necessary to possess and make available data on FSC supply. The section goes on to define several critical work areas that must be pursued to make it easier for demand to find ready sources of supply across primary and secondary manufacturers, as well as brands and retailers.

The strategy concludes with a summary of planned and proposed initiatives spanning all three themes, along with budget requirements. Since its completion last year, FSC US has been steadily pursuing as many initiatives within this strategy as possible while pursuing external funding support for the rest.

Finally, the strategy stresses the importance of communicating regularly with FSC certificate holders – in addition to this article, which communicates key elements of this strategy, in the future we will be providing periodic updates on its implementation - so please stay tuned!

Thanks to all who participated in the development of this strategy, which represents the clearest articulation yet of our path forward. We look forward to working together to achieve its ultimate objective: a thriving North American market for FSC-certified wood products.