Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the benefits that people obtain from nature. Forests provide society with a wide range of benefits, from reliable flows of clean water to productive soil and carbon sequestration. In FSC certified forests, valuable ecosystem services are protected – and in 2018, FSC introduced a procedure to demonstrate and communicate about the positive impact of responsible forest management on ecosystem services. These verified positive impacts aim to facilitate payments for ecosystem services and provide access to other benefits, thereby adding business value for those who responsibly manage forests and those who take action to preserve forest ecosystem services.

Patricia Fitzsimons, Trademarks and Partnerships Manager
Ecosystem Services
FSC-PRO-30-006 EN V1-2.pdf
PDF, Size: 1.03MB

Ecosystem Services Procedure: Impact Demonstration and Market Tools

FSC's Forest Stewardship Standards already require forest managers to maintain/conserve or enhance/restore ecosystem services and environmental values. They also require the managers of FSC-certified forests to identify, produce, or enable the production of diversified benefits and/ or products based on the range of resources and ecosystem services existing in the management unit. The procedure offers a framework for verifying impacts and approving FSC ecosystem services claims that can be used by forest managers to access ecosystem services markets and/or other benefits. It set out the requirements for FSC-certified forest managers to credibly demonstrate the impact of their activities on the maintenance, conservation, restoration or enhancement of ecosystem services.

FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure

The Ecosystem Services Procedure builds on FSC forest management certification by allowing forest managers or owners to make specific, credible claims on how their management activities are contributing to maintaining and/or enhancing various ecosystem services in their forests. Impacts can be verified for the following:

Ecosystem Services Procedure
  • Biodiversity conservation

  • Carbon storage and sequestration

  • Watershed services

  • Soil conservation

  • Recreation services

Most forests or woodlands provide multiple ecosystem services, yet while markets currently attach values to timber and other tangible forest products, and to some ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, the delivery of other ecosystem services has largely gone unrecognised and unrewarded. As a forest manager or owner, the Ecosystem Services Procedure can be used to recognise the diverse benefits of your management practices and identify potential payments or investments for maintaining services that are not recognised by traditional markets. It also allows forest managers to seek rewards for the services provided by forests or woodlands before they have reached maturity.

Achieving ecosystem services verification

Only forests or woodlands that are covered by FSC forest management certification are eligible for ecosystem service impact verification using the FSC Ecosystem Service Procedure.

The verification process is undertaken by the same certification body as for forest management certification. It can take place at the same time as forest management audits and can be managed through a group certification scheme. Verified impacts will be included in the forest management certificate and certification report.

Impacts can be verified for one or any combination of the five ecosystem services, dependent on the services of interest for promotion or investment. As FSC forest management standards provide adequate social and environmental safeguards, it is acceptable to verify positive impacts only for the ecosystem services of interest: compliance with the standards ensures you are not degrading the others.

The guidance document (available to download below) outlines the seven-step step process, requirements and methodologies for verifying ecosystem service impacts.

Ecosystem service claims

1. What are ecosystem services claims?

Once impacts are verified by an FSC-accredited certification body, ecosystem service claims can be used by forest managers to promote their positive impacts and attract payments, investments or other rewards from interested parties.

We can support forest managers and owners by providing guidance on the process of verifying impacts and exploring potential market rewards.

2. How can businesses use ecosystem services claims?

FSC verified ecosystem service claims will help financial sponsors demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Claims provide governments, investors, buyers and businesses with the assurance that the impacts they are paying for preserve the sustainable provision of ecosystem services.

They can also be used by retailers and other companies to promote FSC 100% products from forests with verified ecosystem services impacts.

Ecosystems Services Procedure and Guidance

Guidance For Demonstrating Ecosystem Services Impacts (FSC-GUI-30-006 V1-1)
PDF, Size: 3.36MB
Ecosystem Services Procedure: Impact Demonstration And Market Tools (FSC-PRO-30-006 EN V1-2)
PDF, Size: 1.03MB