Forest Stewardship Council Briefing
International group certifies sustainable timber to value and protect forests
January 31, 2018
By Elizabeth List, Philanthropic Advisor
Forests make life possible, and the Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most beautiful forests in the world. They provide clean air and water, and for those who spend time in the wilderness, a sense of peace and wonder. In spite of their vital benefits, as many of our philanthropists know, the world’s forests are under threat. Globally, the equivalent of 48 football fields in timber area are cut down every minute. That destruction contributes to the 10,000 species that go extinct each year.
In an effort to deepen our staff and philanthropists’ understanding of key environmental issues and opportunities for impact, Seattle Foundation recently hosted a briefing with Kim Carstensen, Director General of the Forest Stewardship Council. The room was filled with local conservation champions who are eager for a continuum of learning on environmental topics.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is regarded as the global leader for responsible management of the world’s forests. Currently, FSC conserves nearly 500 million acres of forests in more than 130 countries, and is the only forest certification program endorsed by leading environmental and social organizations.
To become FSC certified, a landowner must meet strict requirements – to protect old growth and other forests of high conservation value; protect rare, threatened and endangered species; restrict clearcutting and dangerous pesticides; and preserve the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
The FSC operates at the intersection of financial, social and economic factors, and works to see that sustainably certified timber becomes mainstream. Its mission is to ensure forests are here forever and serve all – workers, indigenous people, environmental needs, animals, plants and companies. FSC has set a goal to influence 20 percent of all forest trade by 2020 and to double its certified timber to one billion acres of forest land.
In spite of all the knowledge and data accumulating about carbon and climate change, Carstensen said we’re still not doing enough to preserve and grow forests that help absorb the harmful effects of carbon dioxide. He said that despite the critical role of forests in the future of the planet, only two percent of philanthropic dollars in the U.S. go toward sustaining forests.
Many of our philanthropists are going beyond financial commitments to environmental organizations; they serve on boards, participate in local politics and adopt new practices in their own lives to effect change. As Carstensen shared with the audience, buying products from FSC certified forests is another simple practice to protect the world’s forests and combat global warming. As we continue to learn more about these urgent issues from our partners and philanthropists, Seattle Foundation is committed to serving as a convener for collective impact.