Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 02 October 2019
Forest Management Standard Update

October 2, 2019

In 2018, FSC US began revising the US Forest Management Standard (v1.1), with an overall goal of maintaining continuity and consistency to the extent possible. The process is expected to continue into 2021.

The objectives for the revision process include the following:

  • Align the US standard with the new FSC Principles & Criteria (Version 5), and International Generic Indicators (IGI).
  • Address a small number of high-priority issues identified by stakeholders.
  • Incorporate guidance that has been in use, but not formally adopted into the standard.
  • Complete editorial and grammatical clarifications.

The FSC US Board of Directors identified the following priority issues, based on stakeholder feedback:

  • Regional Requirements – Many region-specific requirements are contained within appendices of the current standard. During the revision, these requirements will be assessed for needed changes and incorporated into the body of the standard.
  • Conservation Lands & High Conservation Values – The revised standard will include a methodology for identifying Representative Sample Areas within a national High Conservation Value (HCV) Framework (to provide guidance on identifying, managing and monitoring HCVs), greater clarity around requirements associated with these issue, and guidance for conforming with the new requirement for a Conservation Areas Network.
  • Customary/Traditional Rights & Engagement – The standard revision process will evaluate new requirements related to customary and traditional rights and clarify relevant terminology.
  • Family Forest Indicators – The current US standard includes recognition of reduced risk for small forest landowners and adapted requirements for conformance associated with a number of issues addressed in the standard. The standard revision process will include an evaluation of needed updates for these indicators.
  • Climate Change – The standard revision process will also include an assessment and consideration of its results to address how climate change adaptation strategies can be supported by the existing framework of the FSC US FM standard, as part of promoting responsible forest management.
  • US Forest Service Supplementary Requirements – A set of supplementary requirements for Forest Service lands were incorporated into the US standard earlier this year. National Forests may now become certified if they are assessed to be in conformance with the indictors in the US Forest Management Standard AND these supplemental requirements. These additional requirements will be aligned with revised standard indicators, and re-assessed as directed by the FSC US Board.

The FSC US Board of Directors will be serving as the Standards Development Group (SDG), and a technical working group has been formed to advise the SDG. This Working Group includes both FSC members and non-members, representing a wide diversity of US regions and stakeholder types. The technical working group includes individuals who are academics with forestry and forest ecology focuses, former and current auditors, certified landowners, representatives of conservation organizations, and forest management consultants who have experience working with a broad range of land mangers, including small forest owners and Native American tribes.

The technical working group has held four in-person, and many more virtual, meetings and is working to make its recommendations to the SDG by the end of this year. We anticipate this will lead to a public consultation in mid-2020.

FSC encourages stakeholder participation throughout the revision process. The best way to participate is to join the consultative forum. This forum is for anyone who wishes to receive periodic updates about the standard revision process and to contribute to the development of the standard. Join the consultative forum by filling out this short form.

You can find more information on the standard revision process by visiting our website or by emailing