FSC Timber Legality Compliance

Specific steps taken by FSC to ensure compliance with timber legality laws.

Principles and Criteria to ensure legality compliance

The FSC Principles and Criteria already focus on compliance with existing legislation. But some adaptations to the standards and indicators derived from the Principles and Criteria have been necessary in order to ensure consistency with specific requirements in the laws of the EU, the USA and Australia.

Since 2012, FSC has taken different measures to ensure its system complies with the timber legality laws of the USA, EU and Australia. Central to this exercise is the adoption of advice notes addressing certificate holders and certification bodies. In most cases, these advice notes relate to specific FSC standards. Below is an overview and links to the specific texts.

Forest management

On 28 February 2013, FSC published the Advice Note on Applicable National and Local Laws and Regulations (ADVICE 20-007-17), in relation to FSC certification. This advice note was revised on 10 July 2014. It addresses certification bodies, but is also meant as a reference list for forest managers. In 2015 these detailed descriptions of what is “legality” became part of the Integrated Generic Indicators, published to ensure a coherent transposition of FSC’s Principles and Criteria into national forest stewardship standards.

The advice note can be found at: FSC Directive on FSC Forest Management Evaluations

Controlled wood

On 28 February 2013, FSC also published Advice Notes on Applicable National and Local Laws and Regulations (ADVICES 40-005-19 and 30-010-01), in relation to the FSC standards on controlled wood. These advice notes were last revised on 10 July 2014. In addition, the Advice Note on Sourcing of Co-products under the EU Timber Regulation (ADVICE 40-005-20), addressing the categorisation of EU countries as 'low risk' for co-products, was adopted.

For further reference see:

FSC Directive on FSC Controlled Wood (DIRECTIVE 40-005)

FSC-STD-40-005 FSC Standard on Requirements for Sourcing FSC Controlled Wood of 2015

Advice Note on Applicable National and Local Laws and Regulations for Controlled Wood for Forest Management Enterprises (ADVICE 30-010-01, self-standing)

Chain of custody

Between 1 November 2012 and 10 July 2014, FSC adopted the following changes to the standard on chain of custody certification to facilitate compliance with the three legality laws, all published as advice notes. FSC subsequently published its updated Directive on Chain of Custody Certification (DIRECTIVE 40-004), containing all of these advice notes:

  • ADVICE 40-004-08 (prevention of presence of) Non-conforming products
  • ADVICE 40-004-09 (accelerated phased out of) Minor components (derogations)
  • ADVICE 40-004-10 Access to information required by timber legality legislations
  • ADVICE 40-004-11 (compliance with) Trade and Customs Laws
  • ADVICE 40-004-12 Pre-consumer reclaimed wood compliance with the EUTR

All of these advice notes have been incorporated in the latest FSC Standard on Chain of Custody Certification.

Please note: these advice notes address specific groups in the FSC supply chains. All certificate holders anywhere in the world are advised to study them to determine if and when they are relevant.