There is a significant difference between a forest manager supplying Controlled Wood and achieving full FSC Certification. Controlled Wood does not provide the full suite of investigation that is provided for under FSC Australia’s rigorous economic, environmental and social standards and the comprehensive independent auditing process that is required for certification.

Controlled Wood was created to enable manufacturers to manage fluctuating supplies of FSC Certified forest products, while creating demand for FSC Certified Wood.

Controlled Wood is not the same as full FSC Certification. It only provides assurances that wood is not:

  • Illegally harvested
  • Harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights
  • Harvested from forests where High Conservation Values are threatened
  • Harvested from forests being converted to plantations or non-forest uses
  • From forests in which genetically modified trees are planted

In addition, producers of Controlled Wood don’t have the FSC market benefits of those with full FSC Certification. For example, they are not able to use the FSC trademarks to promote their operations or timber. However, producing Controlled Wood is an important first step in the journey toward FSC certification and provides an incentive for producers to achieve full FSC Forest Management certification.

So why do we have Controlled Wood?
The key reason that FSC has set up the Controlled Wood standard as a vital stepping stone prior to the FSC certification process is because there simply isn’t enough FSC Certified material on the market. We’d love to be in a position where every native forest and plantation manager has Full FSC Certification, but we still have some work to do to achieve that outcome in Australia.

Demand for FSC Certification continues to grow at a rapid rate, but to meet our stringent standards, forest managers often have to work long and hard at improving their practices before they can become certified. Controlled Wood helps us to grow the impact and influence of the FSC System. For example, in Australia where some forest managers currently have no FSC certification they are still required to protect High Conservation Values to comply with their customer’s desire to meet consumer preferences for FSC.

What Controlled Wood does is remove the element of the unknown when purchasing wood products. By insisting on a minimum standard when purchasing an FSC labeled product, you’re ensuring the product you’re buying isn’t subject to unsustainable forestry practices like deforestation or wood harvested in violation of human rights.

Should I be worried about buying FSC Mix labelled products?
All FSC labels are great choices if you want to be sure that the forest products you are purchasing are from responsible, verified sources. Though it is different to the 100% label, the FSC Mix label is still a responsible choice and a symbol of positive responsible forest management. The FSC Mix label empowers consumers to further influence supply chains around the world and drive for continued improvement.

In fact, many other forest certification schemes do not meet even the minimum standard required by FSC Controlled Wood, showing that even at the entry level FSC requires forest managers to operate in a more responsible manner.

Every FSC labelled product purchased shows forest managers that consumers only want to buy goods made from sustainably harvested wood. If you’re still unsure about the differences in labeling you can read a more detailed description of the FSC labels here