the National Wildlife Federation completed a study and found that the FSC has a more effective certification process than SFI. FSC has stricter environmental regulations, more ecologically sound forest management practices, more detailed ecological indicators, and a list of social criteria that includes local communities.
FSC wood: Forest Stewardship Council certified. The Forest Stewardship Council was established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests.
SFI: Sustainable Forestry Initiative. SFI promotes sustainable forestry management. This certification is widely used across North America.
How are they different? According to this 2001 Yale paper, the FSC is the more robust system. The paper lists the following reasoning (direct quote):
The FSC offers a more effective system as the cumulative result of many distinctions:
! FSC is based upon a required and consistently applied third-party audit; SFI is not;
! FSC is based upon a system of performance-based measurements; SFI is largely focused on the adoption of management systems that may or may not lead to changes in performance;
! FSC has a comprehensive set of detailed ecological indicators; SFI ecological indicators are more general and most indicators are optional;
! FSC sets more stringent guidelines in many areas of environmental protection (such as maintenance of older forest and reserve areas; use of chemicals, exotic and genetically modified species; and conversion of natural forest to plantations) that are more appropriate for ecologically sound forest management;
! FSC has social criteria focusing on local communities and indigenous peoples; SFI does not;
! FSC has Chain-of-Custody Certification and product labeling system allowing processors, retailers, and consumers to confidently know that their wood comes from a well-managed forest; SFI does not; and,
! FSC has mandatory independent public reporting for all companies certified as “well managed” forest operations; SFI does not.
! FSC requires an annual audit; SFI does not.
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