Illegal logging: A challenge and opportunity for FSC

Illegal logging and the international trade in illicitly harvested timber is a serious crime estimated to account for 15-30% of all timber traded1. It is most prevalent and persistent in tropical forest areas worldwide.

Illegal logging undermines the legal trade in forest products by depressing prices, contributes to national and global insecurity by spreading corruption and funding militias, affects the health, safety, and livelihoods of communities, and is responsible for deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, contributions to global warming. It is arguably the greatest and most vexing challenge faced by those seeking to preserve working forests, particularly in tropical regions.

FSC as a force for positive change in forest legality
While there is no single “silver bullet” to tackle illegal logging and its myriad consequences, FSC certification is a proven part of the solution, including requiring certified forest managers to:
•1. Demonstrate legal status of the forest management unit and clear tenure and use rights.
•2. Comply with all applicable national and local laws, regulations and administrative requirements. Must demonstrate legal rights provide for harvest of products within the management unit.
•3. Systematically protect the forest from illegal resource use.
•4. Comply with all applicable national and local laws and international conventions related to transportation and trade of forest products.
•5. Identify, prevent and resolve disputes over issues of statutory or customary law.
•6. Commit not to offer or receive bribes or other form of corruption.

In addition, FSC chain-of-custody certified manufacturers that mix forest products from FSC certified and uncertified sources must implement due diligence systems for the uncertified materials to prevent sources resulting from illegal logging and other egregious forest practices from entering their supply chain. In doing so, these certificate holders employ approved risk assessments and control measures and grant access to evidence of conformity with FSC requirements to third party auditors. Due diligence systems must be reviewed, and if necessary revised, at least on an annual basis.
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