Forest Management Certification

FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.

FM Certification
Milan Reska

Principles, criteria & indicators

There are ten principles that any forest operation must adhere to before it can receive FSC forest management certification. These principles cover a broad range of issues, from maintaining high conservation values to community relations and workers’ rights, as well as monitoring the environmental and social impacts of the forest management.

FSC also provides a number of criteria relating to each principle to provide practical ways of working out whether they are being followed.

Our principles have been developed to be applicable worldwide and relevant to all kinds of forest ecosystems, as well as a wide range of cultural, political and legal settings.

The two relevant documents below are available to download in the document centre:

FSC-STD-01-001 FSC Principles and Criteria for Forest Stewardship are designed to serve as a common starting point for developing National Forest Stewardship Standards.

FSC-STD-60-004-20 International Generic Indicators.



National & interim national standards

FSC's Principles and Criteria set out the global requirements for responsible forest management. Chamber-balanced standard development groups (SDG) adapt the International Generic Indicators at the regional or national level to reflect the diverse legal, social and geographical conditions of forests in different parts of the world. The resulting adjustment is incorporated into a National Forest Stewardship Standard.

The following relevant document is available in the document centre:

FSC-STD-60-002 Structure and Content of National Forest Stewardship Standards.

In countries lacking a National Forest Stewardship Standard, a technical working group can form and develop an interim national forest standard. More information about this process is available in the following document which can be accessed in the document centre:

FSC-PRO-60-007 Structure, Content and Development of Interim National Standards.

Group & SLIMF certification

FSC certificate holders can also join together to form a group certification scheme and share their efforts for forest management planning, harvesting, monitoring and marketing their products. Group certification makes it easier, particularly for smallholders, to become FSC certified, as it enables group members to share costs and workload for applying and maintaining an FSC certificate.

Small or low-intensity managed forests (SLIMF) are eligible for streamlined requirements and auditing procedures that reduce the costs and efforts of the certification.

Many countries have developed specific forest management requirements for SLIMF in their national standards, to facilitate the certification process for smallholders. Check your national standard, or talk to your national or regional office to find out if this is the case in your country.

Similarly, the auditing process can be relaxed for SLIMF operations.

The following relevant document can be downloaded from the document centre:

FSC-STD-01-003 SLIMF and Community Forest Eligibility Criteria.

FSC-STD-30-005 FSC Standard for Group Entities in Forest Management Groups

FSC-STD-20-007 Forest Management Evaluations


Controlled wood

Controlled wood is material from acceptable sources that can be mixed with FSC-certified material in products that carry the FSC Mix label. The controlled wood requirements identify five categories of unacceptable sources for wood, which is not allowed to be mixed with FSC-certified material. These are:

  • Illegally harvested wood
  • Wood harvested in violation of traditional and human rights
  • Wood harvested in forests in which high conservation values (HCVs) are threatened by management activities
  • Wood harvested in forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use
  • Wood from forests in which genetically-modified trees are planted

The controlled wood standards

Controlled wood meets the requirements of the two main FSC controlled wood standards. ·

FSC-STD-40-005 FSC Requirements for Sourcing FSC Controlled Wood - This standard directs businesses to avoid sourcing material from unacceptable sources. You can find our written summary of the important dates and deadlines introduced by V3-1 of the standard here.

FSC-STD-30-010 FSC Controlled Wood Standard for Forest Management Enterprises - This standard specifies requirements for forest management enterprises to show that their management practices result in material from acceptable sources.

Document Centre

From policies, to national standards, to controlled wood risk assessments, the most up-to-date versions of documents from our normative framework can be found here in the FSC document centre. 


Strategy for FSC Mix products and controlled wood 29-04-2019
PDF, Size: 462.11KB
FSC-PRO-10-606 - Approval of Forest Stewardship Standards - 24/10/2017
PDF, Size: 529.69KB
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