Today’s subject – once again – is the FSC Controlled Wood system. A major transition is underway in the community of FSC-certified companies. The long-awaited transition from FSC-STD-40-005 version 2-1 (in place and largely unchanged since 2007) to version 3-1 is fully underway everywhere. Certification Bodies (CB’s) are actively updating their protocols and training their auditors. Certified companies are coming to grips with the decision to either adapt and accept the new standard or drop out of the program. We don’t have a good estimate for the latter group, but anecdotal evidence suggests it may approach 50%.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) published a long-awaited update to the important Chain of Custody standard earlier this winter. If you are a regular reader of this blog, and you have not yet looked at version 3-0 of the FSC Chain of Custody standard, we recommend that you do. Follow this link to the publication announcement that was posted on 1 February. You can download the final document here, as well as an interesting “crosswalk” document which compares versions 2-1 and 3-0.
The long, long process of updating the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC’s) important Chain of Custody (CoC) standard may finally be nearing an end. We learned, along with others at the regional meeting last week in New York City, that the Board of Directors has approved a final version of FSC-STD-40-004 v.3-0. Earlier this week, the staff posted a short Decision Record giving hints about what is coming.
Next week, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) will be hosting a “Regional Membership Meeting” at the Stern School of Business in downtown Manhattan. This meeting is the last of a series of regional meetings held over the last few months at selected locations around the world; including Bali, Bonn, Johannesburg, Moscow, Lima, and now New York City.
It has been nearly a year since the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) published the latest version of its Controlled Wood (CW) standard (FSC-STD-40-005 v.3-0). MixedWood introduced the new version, in an article written last January, this way:
This update has been in the works for nearly 5 years and the subject of seemingly endless discussion, debate, analysis, and hand-wringing. Two discussion drafts were released – the first in the fall of 2013 and the second in late 2014. This final, approved document – sadly – bears little resemblance to either of them. More importantly, because the FSC system relies on a complex series of interconnected documents and guidelines, this new, approved standard represents only a piece of an ongoing revision process for the Controlled Wood System that promises to continue for some time to come (click here to see lots and lots of detail).
We were confident that, by the end of 2016 the challenges of this important update would be well understood, and that implementation of the new standard would be well underway. As with so many predictions concerning the FSC, we were wrong.
By far the most consistent theme explored in this space has been the persistent and frustrating insistence on the part of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to complicate and confuse the subject of supply chain traceability. Our principal tool for supply chain traceability is, of course, Chain of Custody (CoC) certification. And at its root, CoC is simple, or at least it ought to be.
The comment period for the latest round of public discussions by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) on their proposed update to the new Chain of Custody (CoC) stand ends soon. The 3rd draft was published on 15 June, and the official public consultation period ends on 31 August 2016.
We strongly recommend that everyone take part in this consultation. The details of the FSC Chain of Custody standard are important to over 30,000 participating companies around the world. Typically, only a few hundred firms will provide direct feedback in consultations like this. If your company has an interest in this process (if you read this blog, you probably do), then you should take the time to tell FSC what you think.
In a perfect world, the challenges of certified Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) would focus on large, consequential matters like the role of commercial forestry in climate change, or the rights of vulnerable, rural economies. Chain of Custody (CoC) standards – by contrast – seem rather dry, petty, and inconsequential.
But our world is not yet perfect. Chain of Custody certification ought to be simple, but we know it is not. Even minor procedural details – multiplied by more than 30,000 certified companies around the world – add significant effort and cost to the process of bringing sustainable wood products to the worlds markets. And some details are not minor.
Those of us to participate in this business have an important opportunity to improve this situation right now. Our biggest SFM program – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – is nearing the end of an important update of its primary Chain of Custody (CoC) standard. Their 3rd discussion draft is available for review until the end of August, and FSC is actively soliciting comments from the community.
Two email communications were circulated this week by the Forest Stewardship Council – International (FSC-IC) staff. They seem, at first, to address different topics. But on further examination, we can see that they are closely related and very interesting.
Both relate closely to the ongoing, and seemingly endless, update to the primary FSC Chain of Custody Standard (FSC-STD-40-004). This update process has been underway for over 3 years and the 3rd round of public consultation is currently open. MixedWood posted some short comments on this lastest consultation round in June. You can also find commentary on earlier rounds by following these links.