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FSC Data: Watching Global Certification Numbers

Elizabeth Baldwin

Last week I directed you to a useful WWF resource, and this week I want to send you to review some info on FSC, the Forest Stewardship Council. Twice a year they are now putting out a “Market Info Pack” with statistics about the growth of FSC. The latest version (with 2013 data) is here. They have other information resources here as well.

Chart from FSC about forest coverage.Chart from FSC about forest coverage.In this report, you’ll see where the supply is and where the market demand is, as well.  And you’ll get some interesting statistics, like the fact that 6% of the U.S. forests are FSC-certified, while Poland boasts 78%—and it’s not the highest coverage percentage either. Now Turkey, Romania and Indonesia all have about 2 million certified hectares—that’s 18% of Turkey’s forests, 29% of Romania’s, but only 2% of Indonesia’s! And there are more good stats available, some presented with nice pictures like this graphic at right.

Now, I’ve been watching the FSC numbers for awhile and tracking them independently when they put out info in their newsletters. And while they went up steadily from 2009–2013, they started to drop off in 2014. According to newsletters they sent out, they went from 191 million ha as their 2013 average to 184 in 2014 and about 185 today (see the up-to-date number on their website in the “Facts and Figures” box here). But COC’s are continuing to increase, with the 2014 and 2015 numbers moving steadily up. So while there are more companies claiming FSC certification, less forest supply is actually available.

Most stats I can find state that all certified forests (all major certification systems, not just FSC) continue to represent roughly 10% of the world’s commercial forests. (Want to grab some nice summary work on forestry stats? Check out this master’s project.) So a lot of those CoC’s are just certificates—they don’t represent any significant availability of finished products. 

Anyway, the bottom line is that there just isn’t enough certified material out there for it to really supply the market the way we would hope. But with Brazil having only 1% of their forests certified, there is room for that increased coverage...

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