FSC Principles and Criteria

International Guidelines to forest management

Malaysian Wetlands (© Anthony Sebastien)© Anthony SebastienThe FSC Principles & Criteria (P&C) describe the essential elements or rules of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.

There are ten principles setting out this vision; each principle is supported by several criteria that provide a way of judging whether the principle has been met in practice.


FSC was born out of a desire to make forest management environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable for the long term.

All ten principles and criteria must be applied in any forest management unit before it can receive FSC certification. The Principles & Criteria apply to all forest types and to all areas within the management unit included in the scope of the certificate.The P&C are applicable worldwide and relevant to forest areas and different ecosystems, as well as cultural, political and legal systems. This means that they are not specific to any particular country or region.

Our principles have been developed to be applicable worldwide and relevant to different kinds of forest area and ecosystem, as well as cultural, political, and legal systems. To help forest managers and owners and certification bodies interpret the latest FSC P&C, the International Generic Indicators (IGIs) have been developed.

The ten FSC Principles require the forest owner or manager to do the following:

Principle 1: The Organization shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally-ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements.

Principle 2: The Organization shall maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of workers.

Principle 3: The Organization shall identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.

Principle 4: The Organization shall contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.

Principle 5: The Organization shall efficiently manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits.

Principle 6: The Organization shall maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.

Principle 7: The Organization shall have a management plan consistent with its policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities. The management plan shall be implemented and kept up to date based on monitoring information in order to promote adaptive management. The associated planning and procedural documentation shall be sufficient to guide staff, inform affected stakeholders and interested stakeholders and to justify management decisions.

Principle 8: The Organization shall demonstrate that, progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit, are monitored and evaluated proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities, in order to implement adaptive management.

Principle 9: The Organization shall maintain and/or enhance the High Conservation Values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach.

Principle 10:Management activities conducted by or for The Organization for the Management Unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with The Organization’s economic, environmental and social policies and objectives and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.

See types of FSC Certificates

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000233