I received an message this morning in my inbox from FSC-IC, announcing the release of a second discussion draft of their International Generic Indicators (IGI’s).  You can read all about the IGI process, from FSC’s perspective, here.  You read some earlier commentary on the subject here.

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This is a big deal.

The most important – and least discussed – weakness of the FSC program has always been the wide disparity between what constitutes “FSC certified” in different parts of the world.  FSC deserves a lot of credit for tackling this very difficult problem.  If they get it right, they could significantly strengthen the program.  If they get it wrong, on the other hand, the whole thing could unravel rather quickly.

The first draft of the IGI’s showed some promise, but was much, much to complex and detailed.  FSC staff seem to have gotten this message and promise that this next draft is more streamlined.  If this is true – and that remains to be seen – it could represent an important first step in stemming the relentless tide of more and more complexity that has been so worrisome lately.

North America is important.

FSC has – from its earliest days – had an intentional focus on the “global south” –  the developing world.  This is a worthy goal, but the fact remains that the program’s survival depends on its remaining relevant and effective in the key markets of western Europe and North America.  It also important to remember that 40% of the acreage currently certified to the FSC standard is in North America. Staff at FSC-US and FSC-Canada are watching the IGI process closely and working hard to protect what we have worked so hard to build.  Those of us with business stakes in the program need to give them our candid input and support.

FSC needs to hear from you.

I intend to spend some time with this discussion draft and to return some constructive comments before the end of the consultation period on 31 March 2014.  I will share my observations here.  Every company who uses the FSC program has a stake in this – whether or not they manage timberland.  Even if your messages is a simple one – like “Please keep it simple” – FSC needs to hear from you.  Follow this link to get in touch, or send email to igi@fsc.org.