t's not every day that professional foresters, large retailers and timber companies sit down with indigenous forest dwellers, environmentalists and human rights activists to discuss the fate of forests and timber.
But in 1993 in Toronto, Canada, that is exactly what happened. All present stood to gain. Sustainable forest management is in everyone's interest, because well-managed forests provide livelihoods and resources far into the future.
Instead of depending on cut-and-run, short-term operations, businesses can produce, manufacture and sell products on a sustainable and long-term basis. Local peoples can retain traditional lifestyles of living off the land; workers are well treated; and environmentalists rejoice that forests are given a chance.
FSC's check-and-tree logo only goes on goods that meet strict requirements at every step of production. Customers can trace the origins of all its certified products from forest floor to shop shelf.
Major stores worldwide now stock more than 20,000 FSC-certified products from building timber to pencils, tables, doors, other furniture and even lavatory paper.
Dr Chris Elliott of WWF, the conservation organization, who chaired that first meeting in Canada in 1993 explains: 'At that time there were no certified forests. Ten years on, nearly 50 million hectares - an area larger than Spain - in 62 countries are certified by independent bodies accredited by the FSC.'
|photo: Christian Slanel/UNEP/Topham|
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