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What Does FSC Mean? A Closer Look at FSC Certification

FSC Timber

If you’ve been shopping for garden furniture, then you may have noticed that some items are marked “FSC Certified.” Responsible shoppers should be on the lookout for the FSC logo since it means something pretty important. What does FSC certified mean? We’ve got everything you need to know right here.

What Does FSC Stand For?

What is FSC

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. This is a non-profit agency that works to protect forests around the world. By using rigorous measures the FSC ensures that any product stamped with their seal of approval is environmentally sound.

What Does the FSC Do to Protect the Environment?

The FSC does many things, but essentially what concerns you as a shopper is that they ensure that wood stamped as FSC certified comes from a responsible and renewable source. In order to get the FSC stamp of approval companies have to prove that they are managing their forests responsibly (not just cutting down trees where and when they feel like it) and that they are also replacing the trees they cut down with new ones. Obviously, this is much better for the environment.

In addition to this basic task, the FSC also has a few other rules that companies must abide by in order to get that FSC stamp:

  • Natural forests can only be converted into plantations for tree-cutting under very strict conditions
  • Forest managers are required to protect trees and forests that are endangered or rare
  • Companies must respect the rights of any aboriginal peoples in and around the forest site
  • Trees may not be genetically modified in any way

How Does Non-FSC Certified Wood Hurt the Environment?

Wood that’s harvested without thinking about environmental concerns has a large impact on the world around us. For example, wood may not be renewed, meaning new trees aren’t planted to take the place of those being cut down, leaving us with a shortage of wood. Or cutting may not take into account good practices, meaning land erodes where trees are cut down and no new crops or trees can be planted on it. Or perhaps indigenous people’s are moved against the will, or areas of importance to them are desecrated. An FSC certified product will have none of these effects.

How Do I Know if Wood is FSC Certified?

The FSC has a rigorous process for ensuring that all its conditions are met. Companies are frequently inspected, and the FSC has a “chain of custody” meaning that wood is tracked all the way from the forest, through the manufacturing process and to the store in order to be sure that the wood is genuinely from an FSC certified source.

As a consumer, you know that wood is FSC certified because the wood or furniture that you’re buying will be stamped with the FSC logo. Having said this, there are actually three different FSC logos that you might see, and each means something different:

  • FSC 100% means that 100% of the wood used comes from an FSC certified source
  • FSC Recycled means that all the wood or paper in a product comes from reclaimed sources (i.e. has been recycled)
  • FSC Mixed means that at least 70% of the wood used comes from FSC certified sources or is recycled

Is FSC the Only Environmentally Responsible Option?

There are other non-profit agencies and companies like the FSC. However, the FSC is the largest company, meaning that there are more products FSC certified than those certified by other agencies. Also, the FSC is incredibly strict, which is why it’s the only responsible forestry agency that’s supported by environmental agencies like the WWF, Greenpeace, and the Woodland Trust.

Where Do I Get FSC Certified Timber or Products?

The good news is that it’s easy to find products that have the FSC stamp. The FSC is such a major organization that their approved products make it to shelves all over the world. Any home improvement store or timber yard should have a full range of FSC certified products. And no matter whether you’re shopping for garden benches or bin stores, you should be able to find the furniture you need with an FSC stamp of approval. You can also use the FSC database here to find products and companies that are FSC certified.

Wait, Does it Cost More?

More good news! Nope, FSC certified timber or products should not cost more than products from other sources of similar quality. The FSC is a non-profit agency so getting the FSC stamp does not increase the price of a product.

Does It Actually Work?

According to environmental agencies like the WWF, yes, the FSC does work. Forests and companies that are under the control of the FSC are healthier and have a less negative impact on the environment through erosion than forests not controlled by the FSC.

So FSC Certified is the Way to Go?

Given that wood from FSC sources is unlikely to cost more than any other kind of wood then yes, choosing FSC certified products is the way to go. You’ll be making an environmentally sound choice, and you won’t be paying a premium in order to do so.

Garden furniture shopping is a lot about aesthetics, what will look good on your property, and what will fit the space you have. But a small part of your buying decision should also centre around the environmental impact of choosing wooden furniture. Fortunately, it’s easy to make the responsible choice. All you need to do is look for the FSC stamp on your product and you can be certain that you’re doing all you can to protect the environment.

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