You are not Alone


You are not alone

The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.3 chambers

Enhancing the social and economic well-being of workers.

There is specific focus in the FSC standards on the rights of workers and the conditions under which they are employed.  This, invariably, is a standard focus of every FSC audit. 

As the worker you have the right to a wage that is at least equivalent to the minimum basic wage of the country you reside in.

Discrimination of any kind is severely frowned upon in the FSC world and certificate holders must have policies and processes in place to ensure that this does not take place.  Auditors will specifically check for evidence of this.

Child labour is very much restricted and no child younger than 15 will be allowed to work in an FSC certified forest and then, such labour may not interfere with their schooling and may not be detrimental to their health and safety.  In practical terms, this means for instance that children may only perform light duties and are prohibited from performing dangerous tasks such as harvesting and working with forest pesticides. 

 Policies and procedures need to be in place to prevent sexual harassment and most importantly, workers must have safe mechanisms to report same.

Where the Certificate Holder provides accommodation to their workers, these must confirm to strict rules that ensure their health, safety and privacy.  These FSC requirements have brought about significant improvements in these facilities thus provided by Certificate Holders and continue to do so.



If workers wish to belong to and participate in labour union activities, their rights within certified forest are protected and monitored through the annual audits.  Is there any other industry out there that can claim the same? 

These rights are invariably enshrined in national legislation and as such, when a certificate holder fails to comply with these requirements, it is seen as serious transgression that will need to be addressed within 3 months failing which, the certificate will be suspended and ultimately withdrawn, if not sufficiently corrected within a specified time-frame.  It is also worth noting that experience has shown that governments the world over have difficulty in enforcing these legal requirements in a consistent manner.  FSC certification however, fills that gap beautifully and is thus often seen as the harbinger of hope and trust in the labour markets.

Identify and uphold indigenous peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities

Indigenous PeoplesIndigenous peoples the world over are often marginalised and heavily discriminated against.  Not so in an FSC certified forest.  Here their land-use, customary and traditional rights are tightly controlled and Forest Managers have to ensure that this remains the case.  Within the FSC system, the concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC, is thoroughly enshrined.  Essentially, this means that where there is a potential overlap of forest management activities with the livelihoods of indigenous peoples - the latter must be consulted in a manner and from a perspective where they fully understand an appreciate the implications of any decisions they make to allow such overlap with forest management activities.  For instance: if a group of indigenous peoples are compensated for the forest management activities that take place in their territory, they must be able to look beyond the immediate benefits of such compensation and consider the future implications of these forest management activities.

Contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic well-being of local communities

Local communities equally have rights in FSC certified forests.  Where forest management has an impact on the livelihoods or rights of such communities - these needs to be negotiated with those communities to ensure their rights are maintained and whether damage is done, they will be compensated for such.  The FSC standards also require forest management certificate holders to make sure that local communities benefit from their management activities.  Preference must be given to such communities in terms of employment and the provision of goods and services to the certified organisation.  Larger certificate holders are also strongly encouraged through the standards to assist with the development of local economies.  This could be through for instance the processing of the locally produced timber and other forest products.  Forest managers will often allow the commercial collection of berries, mushrooms, firewood and a myriad of other products. Workers Rights

Whereas workers’ rights were previously restricted to those that are employed within FSC certified forests, the core labour rights are now also enshrined in the FSC Chain of Custody requirements, applied to the downstream production and processing of forest products, through the Chain of Custody standards.

Through this, FSC certification strongly promote the rights of Homo sapiens to a safe and decent life, wherever they may find themselves.

Again, how many other natural resource-based industries can make this claim.

You have the right to protect your interests. At the core of the FSC system is the right to all stakeholders, workers, communities and others, to formally present any issues they may have with the forest management activities in a certified forest.  Complaints are taken very seriously in the FSC world and there are strict rules for how forest managers deal with such and beyond that, how certification bodies monitor such complaints and/or deal with issues that are presented to them.  FSC and Assurance Services International (the organisation that strictly monitors and has complete oversight over all FSC certified operations) are the ultimate arbiter of such disputes and stakeholders thus have the assurance that their concerns are addressed timely and effectively.  Contact the certification body for a copy of their dispute resolution processes, should you have the need to find out more or to submit a dispute.


For more information contact Manushka Moodley: