Certification from third-party organisations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) can be used as potential tools in assessing the risks of illegality related to timber or its derived products. However, they are not accepted as automatic proof of compliance.
The EUTR Guidance document sets four key questions for companies to use to assess the credibility of a third-party certification system.
FSC has taken additional measures to further ensure its system complies with the latest timber laws of the EU, USA and Australia. In early 2015, the FSC created the FSC Directive on Forest Management Evaluations to help standardize the understanding and implementation of requirements by FSC accredited certification bodies and certificate holders.
FSC’s certification scheme is based on ISO Guide 65. Accreditation Services International evaluates the compliance of the implementation of the FSC scheme against ISO Guide 65 and accredits Certification Bodies if they are compliant. FSC is a full member of ISEAL and as such has to demonstrate compliance with ISEAL norms, including the Impact Code.
The FSC believes that its accreditation system in relation to country of harvest and/or wood species involved is sufficiently robust to reduce the risk of illegal timber to negligible, requiring no additional information to be collected. However, the due diligence system of each operator would need to be robust enough to verify this if challenged by an inspector.