Tuesday, 19 January 2021
A Look Ahead at 2021
Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, FSC enters the new year with momentum and strength in the United States and around the world. From global brands to small design firms, there is widespread and accelerating recognition of FSC as the world’s most trusted certification for forest products. And there is growing consensus that FSC represents the best in forest management.
I think there are several reasons for the momentum we are experiencing. This dreadful pandemic demonstrated that all life is connected, causing greater numbers to think about their relationships with the natural world. Climate change came to the fore, with presidential campaigns highlighting the issue as wildfires and hurricanes brought it to our front doors. Organizations of all sizes put sustainability and social responsibility at the center of their business strategies, in response to the climate crisis, declining biodiversity and racial justice protests. Together, these trends cause people to look for ways to make a positive difference.
Recently, The New York Times Magazine ran a story called, “The Social Life of Forests.” The article highlights FSC Certificate Holder Menominee Tribal Enterprises, which has been “thinking in terms of whole systems” in their forest management for at least 150 years, and probably far longer. This is the goal of FSC certification - to manage responsibly for the full range of economic, social and environmental values in a forest, ensuring they are protected and enhanced for generations to come.
It is exactly this type of holistic thinking that has guided the revision of our National Forest Stewardship Standard. In the year ahead, we will substantially complete the revision process, identifying the appropriate balance between our existing “best-in-class” standard with new requirements that are practical and achievable. Where possible we are looking to streamline the standard, as we also bring it into alignment with the FSC Principles and Criteria Version 5, as approved by FSC’s membership. This is a daunting task, but also energizing. It remains at the core of our mission and our primary way to make a positive impact in forests around the country.
Confronted by the urgency of climate change, it is important that our standards remain both rigorous and practical. Increasingly, construction companies, furniture manufacturers, carbon project developers and many others are looking to FSC as a tool to help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Because our holistic approach to forest management considers many values – from biodiversity and watershed protection to carbon sequestration and respect for workers and Indigenous Peoples – we see unique potential to deliver climate change mitigation and resilience and their myriad co-benefits together. Forest carbon is not a standalone commodity to FSC, but rather a value-added outcome generated alongside many others. In 2021 we will conduct research into the carbon benefits of FSC-certified management to quantify these outcomes.
To make it all work, we rely on market demand for FSC-certified products. Again, progress in 2020 puts us in a strong position for the coming year. Interest in FSC-certified wood as a low-embodied-carbon material is creating renewed interest particularly from the construction industry. And corporations are being increasingly assertive about their sustainability commitments, which translates into growing demand for FSC-certified products. Notably, the launch of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly initiative is offering consumers a powerful new way to find FSC-certified products. Companies are operationalizing their sustainability commitments – REI, for example, is requiring suppliers to meet its sustainability standards, which include FSC – and building confidence in their strategies, which is bringing new parties to FSC.
In the coming months, we’ll be launching a new online consumer marketplace to make it easier than ever to find FSC-certified products, while also generating insights for manufacturers and retailers about the customers who buy FSC. This new platform will operate in tandem with buildwithfsc.com, which has helped better connect supply chains for FSC-certified construction materials with the customers who seek them.
In short, we have a busy year ahead full of great potential and opportunity. On behalf of the whole FSC US team, thank you for your commitment to forest stewardship. We hope 2021 is a healthy, prosperous year for you and your families.
Forest Stewardship Council U.S.