An innovative idea takes root
© Jaap van der WaardeConcerned about accelerating deforestation, environmental degradation and social exclusion, a group of timber users, traders and representatives of environmental and human rights organizations met in California in 1990.
This diverse group highlighted the need for a system that could credibly identify well-managed forests as the sources of responsibly produced wood products. The concept of FSC and the name were coined at this meeting.
It was another two years before the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The Earth Summit produced no legally binding commitments on forest management, but it did result in Agenda 21 and the non-legally binding Forest Principles. And crucially it provided a forum for many non-governmental organizations to come together and gather support for the innovative idea of a non-governmental, independent and international forest certification scheme.
Following intensive consultations in ten countries to build support for the idea of a worldwide certification system, the FSC Founding Assembly was held in Toronto, Canada in 1993.
The FSC Secretariat opened in Oaxaca, Mexico and the FSC was established as a legal entity in Mexico in February 1994. The FSC Secretariat relocated to Bonn, Germany in 2003.
The number of certificates issued in both forest management and chain of custody have increased exponentially, passing a total of 20,000 certificates in 2011; the 1,000th forest management certificate was also issued in 2011 to a Portuguese small farmers’ association covering their cork plantations. Our 6th General Assembly was held in 2011 in Sabah, Malaysia, and was attended by about 400 participants.