Organisations responsible for converting natural forests or that have acquired lands that were converted after 1994 have previously been ineligible to obtain FSC certification. This rule was intended to discourage or stop deforestation caused by plantation development. While this has been an effective policy for FSC, remedy is crucial to ensure that the social and ecological harms caused by past conversion can be addressed. 

At the FSC General Assembly in Bali, Indonesia, the FSC membership voted to allow companies with converted land to obtain FSC certification, provided that they restore the same amount of forest that was converted between 1994 and 2020. No conversion is to be allowed past 2020. 

To qualify as restored, FSC requires at least 30% of the forest to be left untouched while the remaining 70% can be productive. Companies must also provide social restoration to communities affected by the conversion. This can include giving back land, providing financial compensation, employment or infrastructure.

The passing of this motion will provide a route by which millions of hectares of forests can be restored and managed responsibly according to the FSC Principles and Criteria. With this, FSC aims to become a relevant tool in the restoration space, providing incentives to restore deforested and degraded land. 

Managing Director of FSC International, Kim Carstensen notes that "What is absolutely certain is that we do want to move forward on the issue of being able to provide remedy to people and to nature that has suffered from conversion."

The changes are expected to be incorporated into the Australian National Forest Stewardship Standard in the ongoing revision and the New Zealand standard when it is revised next.

To find out more, watch the video below: