America was once 46 percent forested, but that number declined significantly during the period between 1600 and 1900. However, thanks to reforestation efforts, the percentage of forests has remained stable since that time, and this is due in part to organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council. An open and independent, non-profit organization, the FSC works to protect forests now and for future generations. They do so by establishing certification standards for forests and companies, and three chambers of equal weight-economic, environmental, and social- work to maintain the proper balance and highest integrity level. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Forest Stewardship Council serves as a national office of the international FSC based in Bonn, Germany.
The History of the Forest Stewardship Council
The FSC was established in 1992 after the Rio Earth Summit failed to reach an agreement regarding deforestation and stopping this destruction. Environmentalists came together with businesses and community leaders to create the council. The first General Assembly of the council met in Toronto, Canada in 1993 to develop a voluntary approach based on the market to improve forest practices across the globe.
Forest product boycotts weren’t working, as they only served to devalue forest land. The council wished to offer an alternative to these boycotts and find a way to bring about change. To reflect the values of the organization, the council was first in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1994 within a forest region. In 1995, the United States chapter of the Forest Stewardship Council was founded and remains based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today, the FSC Secretariat resides in Bonn, Germany, and the organization is now present in more than 80 countries across the globe. Anywhere forests are present this organization may be found.
The Goals of the FSC
The Forest Stewardship Council wishes to ensure the responsible management of forests and has developed standards to achieve this goal. The council’s program is voluntary and relies on the marketplace to ensure forests remain in existence for future generations. People often assume the best way to stop or slow deforestation is to stop using products made from forests. However, this isn’t a realistic goal.
Most people don’t realize the number of forest products they use each year. For example, one person in America uses, on average, enough paper every year to account for six trees. They don’t even know they are doing so. At the same time, they are using other products made from forests.
To counteract the use of these products, the FSC harnesses market demand, ensuring the responsible management of forests in the process. The council now serves as the gold standard in the certification of forests and has the support of numerous groups, including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and Greenpeace. As of today, the FSC has certified more than 380 million acres of forestland, which includes more than 150 million acres in America and Canada.
Forests are necessary for life. The trees filter the air living creatures breathe and the water they drink. Today, people turn to the forests for materials to create food, shelter, and clothing, and many people rely on these forests for their livelihood. With the help of the Forest Stewardship Council, future generations will be able to do the same. Consumers can help achieve this goal by purchasing products with the FSC logo and rewarding landowners who care for their forests.
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