New Zealand Forest Management Certification

FSC National Forest Stewardship Standards provide world-leading criteria for productive forests here and abroad. These national standards ensure that forest management brings together industry, environmental and community interests to best meet the needs of New Zealand.

These standards are drawn from a generic, international framework. This has been developed locally by a chamber-balanced, standard development group with the goal of either adopting, adapting, removing, or including hundreds of specific indicators to produce a document that is appropriate for the landscape and people of Aotearoa.


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Forest Management Certification in New Zealand

Certification involves an inspection of a productive forest by an independent FSC-accredited certification body to check that the forest complies with the internationally agreed FSC 10 Principles of Responsible Forest Management. If the forest complies with FSC standards, then the FSC accredited certification body issues a certificate for the operation.

With the current standard (released in 2022) there are several key concepts, developed from the need to adapt to New Zealand’s changing environment. The previous standard was released in 2016 and the forestry industry has evolved since then. Scientific breakthroughs, social studies and a changing climate have driven a number of these changes. Indeed, it is an exciting time to be at the forefront of such a crucial industry and as always, the FSC aims to lead the way in responsible management of our precious forests.

Examples of Significant Values an FSC-certified Forest Must Meet to Achieve its Certification

  1. Riparian Setbacks

    A sophisticated system is in place to identify, protect and where possible, restore natural water courses. New Zealand’s forests help protect some our most erodible hills. This is especially important to consider near our waterways. FSC-certified forests take extra care to prevent damage to these water ways and streams by ensuring harvesting activity can only occur if they are a sufficient distance from them. Where appropriate, native vegetation is planted by water ways to provide additional protects and to enhance the water quality.

  2. Living Wages

    Every employee and contractor working in an FSC-certified forest is paid a living wage (defined by New Zealand law). Forestry is hard work and the labour that goes into supporting forest workers is equally important. Certified forests can proudly say their workers are receiving fair reimbursement for their efforts in driving this crucial industry towards its world-class standard.

  3. Non-Timber Forest Products

    Our forests produce more than just timber. In the FSC, these are called Non-Timber Forest Products and it is possible for these to also carry an FSC claim. Some potential Non-Timber Forest Products include:

    • Animal products such as fur, meat and tallow from animals like deer and possum.
    • Oils and other extracts from leaves harvested in forests
    • Bee products including honey and pollen.
    • If a forest manager has any other Non-Timber Forest Products in mind, then these can also be included through a special process
  4. Protection of High-Conservation Land Values and Rare and Threatened Species

    • An FSC-certified forest must identify, record and either maintain or enhance any high conservation values within its space. High conservation values include species diversity, landscape-level ecosystems, ecosystems and habitats essential to the survival of native species, critical ecosystem services, sites that are culturally significant, community spaces and cultural values.
    • Rare, threatened, and at-risk species are protected in certified forests through the development and maintenance of habits, conservation zones and protected areas. Wildlife corridors are also developed to aid in the connectivity and survival of these species. This is complimented by an area of preserved, natural forest that must equate to no less than 10% of the total forest area.
    • Pest species such as possums are kept in check using the best available information and the very latest pest control methods. This gives our precious natives species their best opportunities to flourish.
  5. Culturally Appropriate Engagement and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent

    FSC-certified forests work closely with local Iwi, seeking wisdom and leadership whenever possible. Free, prior and informed consent is the cornerstone of engagement with first nations people within the FSC system. The result is better overall forestry practises, environmental outcomes and harmony between the industry and the lands it relies on.

  6. Enhancing Local Communities/Public Access/Recreation

    ​​​​​​In an FSC-certified forest it isn’t uncommon to find a world-class walking track, mountain bike circuit, lookout point or adventure opportunity. This is because public access and recreational activities are all a part of our standards. Check in with your local FSC-certified forest to find out what activities it has in store for you.

  7. Transparency of Records

    ​​​​​​FSC-certification is all about transparency. Our publicly accessible database allows you to find and review audit reports from any certified forest. With this tool you can find out what a forest is doing well and where it’s working to improve.

  8. Ecosystem Services

    Our forests provide us with some amazing benefits beyond timber and non-timber products. Water and soil quality, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and recreational activities are among these benefits and through FSC-certification these can be measured and should a forester wish, they can make claims to promote these outcomes and their hard work.

  9. Zero Conversion of Natural Forest into Plantation Forest

    ​​​​​​Another cornerstone of the FSC system. Within an FSC-certified forest conversion from a natural forest to a productive forest. This means natural forest areas in a certified forest will only grow and develop, never shrinking. This enhances other outcomes of the forest and works towards FSC primary goal: eliminating deforestation.