An innovative idea takes root
© Malaysian Nature SocietyConcerned about accelerating deforestation, environmental degradation and social exclusion, a group of timber users, traders and representatives of environmental and human rights organizations met in California in 1990.
This diverse group highlighted the need for a system that could credibly identify well-managed forests as the sources of responsibly produced wood products. The concept of FSC and the name were coined at this meeting.
It was another two years before the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The Earth Summit produced no legally binding commitments on forest management, but it did result in Agenda 21 and the non-legally binding Forest Principles. And crucially it provided a forum for many non-governmental organizations to come together and gather support for the innovative idea of a non-governmental, independent and international forest certification scheme.
Following intensive consultations in ten countries to build support for the idea of a worldwide certification system, the FSC Founding Assembly was held in Toronto, Canada in 1993.
The FSC Secretariat opened in Oaxaca, Mexico and the FSC was established as a legal entity in Mexico in February 1994. The FSC Secretariat relocated to Bonn, Germany in 2003.
It began in 2002 when a small group of interested stakeholders embarked on an effort to establish a Malaysian presence for FSC – the FSC National Initiative.
A workshop on forest certification was jointly organized by the FSC, Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC), WWF-Malaysia, Tropical Forest Trust (TFT) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in 2000, with a primary aim to discuss opportunities for collaboration between FSC and MTCC (then known as the National Timber Certification Council, NTCC). Reviewing compatibility of MTCC’s existing forest management standards against the requirements of FSC was paramount.
Over the years, as FSC and MTCC eventually pursued separate paths, several interested stakeholders continued to maintain linkages with FSC. The mission remained the same – to establish a locally adapted FSC certification scheme available to the Malaysian forest industry.
WWF-Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) were key drivers of this reinvigorated initiative. Through their guidance, the 1st (FSC) Pro-tem National Working Group’s Planning Meeting was held in 2006 where WWF-Malaysia was appointed as the interim Secretariat; a role it held for five years until 2010.
In compliance with FSC requirements, a National Working Committee (NWC) was formed in 2007. Shortly after, it became a legal entity following endorsement from the Malaysian Registrar of Companies and was legally registered as Forest Stewardship (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. in 2007.
To oversee the start-up of this important initiative, MNS and WWF-Malaysia continued steering this process, including providing administrative oversight to the company.
In 2009, the company name changed to Forest Sustainability (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd, now better known as FSM.
On the 19th of November 2014, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) opens its door to sustainable forest management in Malaysia under FSM. Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC International and then Interm Executive Director, Andrew Ng were amongst those present to officiate the official launch of FSC’s national office in Malaysia.