FSC Controlled Wood

Through the AHEC-commissioned Seneca Creek study published in October 2008, AHEC can provide independent peer-reviewed information to support companies seeking to demonstrate that all their U.S. hardwood supplies are "FSC Controlled".

The FSC Controlled Wood concept was developed as an element of FSC's chain of custody (CoC) system to ensure that products carrying the FSC label and containing a mixture of FSC certified and uncertified wood have been controlled to exclude wood coming from unacceptable sources.

The FSC "Standard for Company Evaluation of FSC Controlled Wood" (FSC-STD-40-005) operates in conjunction with the FSC Chain of Custody standard (FSC-STD-40-004) and is designed to ensure companies avoid trading in:

  1. illegally harvested wood;
  2. wood harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights;
  3. wood harvested in forests where high conservation values are threatened by management activities;
  4. wood harvested in forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use;
  5. or wood from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted.

FSC CoC certified companies implementing an FSC Controlled Wood verification program are required to identify the district of origin of a product and then to determine whether this district is a confirmed low risk area for unacceptable sources. The FSC Controlled Wood status of product coming from districts which cannot be confirmed as low risk with respect to any of the five categories is subject to further verification at forest management unit level. However wood coming from districts identified as low risk for all five wood categories of unacceptable source may be treated by the company as FSC Controlled Wood without any further verification.

FSC has established a detailed methodology and set of indicators to be used for assessment of risk. The AHEC-commissioned Seneca Creek study includes a risk assessment for all U.S. hardwoods that is fully in accordance with the FSC methodology.

With respect to FSC Controlled Wood, the Seneca Creek study concludes that "we have a high confidence that hardwood procured from anywhere in the Hardwood States could be considered Low Risk in all five risk categories of the standard. Minor and occasional instances contrary to this finding are present in one or more of the risk categories, and where they do occur, they should be further evaluated by companies procuring wood in those areas. However, we determine the level to be within the threshold for being low risk through our interpretation of the FSC standard and its requirements".

The implication is that companies certified to the FSC-STD-40-004 and FSC-STD-40-005 standards should be able to supply those hardwoods that can be shown to have been procured from the U.S. Hardwood States as FSC Controlled Wood without the need for any further evaluation or verification. This should greatly facilitate the supply of FSC labeled products containing American hardwoods using FSC's percentage and volume credit systems.

The study should also facilitate wider use of hardwoods from the U.S. Hardwood States in construction projects covered by the FSC Project Certification Standard (FSC-STD-40-006). This standard is being used increasingly by large building contractors for high profile construction projects, notably in Western Europe. For example, the standard is being used by Bovis Lend Lease in the construction of the Athletes Village for the London 2012 Olympics. The minimum criterion for wood used on these projects is that it must be FSC Controlled.