Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture. At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day. Here are some of the basics on FSC:
What is FSC? The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.
Launched by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity, native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for timber production.
The FSC label provides certification of the chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be FSC certified. It's called the "chain of custody":
- Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and social criteria
- Certified logger and sawyer
- Certified lumber wholesaler
- Certified lumber retailer
- Certified furniture maker
- Certified furniture retailer
Benefits of FSC Certification In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest conservation.
Another challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been criticized for being too lenient, particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.
Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture? Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible, green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption and counterfeiting.
In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately. Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable. At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests.
If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees. And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.