The FSC Principles are the essential elements or rules of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable forest management, and the Criteria provide a way of judging whether or not a Principle has been met. The Principles and Criteria, the foundation of the FSC certification scheme, covers a broad range 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.
There are ten Principles that must be followed by the forest management unit before it can receive FSC forest management 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.
Principle 1: The Organisation shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally ratified international treaties, conventions, and agreements.
Principle 2: The Organisation shall maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of workers.
Principle 3: The Organisation 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 Organisation shall contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.
Principle 5: The Organisation 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 Organisation 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 Organisation 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 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 Organisation 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, to implement adaptive management.
Principle 9: The Organisation 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 Organisation for the Management Unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with The Organisation’s economic, environmental, and social policies and objectives and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.
The FSC Principles and Criteria are globally applicable, and locally adaptable through the FSC International Generic Indicators, the aim of which is as follows:
- Operationalise at national level the FSC Principles and Criteria for Forest Stewardship;
- Ensure the consistent implementation of the FSC P&C across the globe;
- Improve and strengthen the credibility of the FSC System;
- Improve the consistency and quality of National Forest Stewardship Standards (NFSS);
- Support a faster and more efficient approval process of NFSS; and
- Replace the Certification Body’s Interim Standards with Interim National Standards in countries that lack approved NFSS.