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You’ve probably heard it before: Forests are key to the life we live and the air we breathe. They cover almost a third of the earth’s land masses and harbour 80 percent of our planet’s terrestrial biodiversity. They make up a rich ecosystem which provides food, shelter, clean air and water to a wide range of species while safeguarding our own vitality. They also supply us with one of the most versatile and valuable natural materials there is: wood. When we use wood to build, today we follow the well-worn path of those before us. But for this path to take us into the future, responsible forestry is more important than ever.
As humans, the relationship we share with our forests runs deep. In Northern Europe, oak trees once ruled over a kingdom of dense forest, rich in biodiversity. To our hunter-gatherer forefathers, forests provided essential shelter and resources. The first timber house was built as early as the Stone Age, and thanks to wood’s fibrous properties, our ancestors later used it to build sturdy ships, windmills, and even shoes (of course, the Dutch took this a notch further). Carpenters became the most skilled craftspeople in society, advancing the growth of their communities over generations.
This history matters because it means that when we use wood today we do so thanks to its renewable characteristics. With that comes significant responsibility: To carry on the traditions of our ancestors, we must think sustainably. Protecting the forests that harbour vibrant ecosystems and deliver us invaluable resources is paramount. For businesses with timber as their lifeblood, this means ensuring the forests that supply their materials are managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and sustains economic viability. Today, whether you manufacture copybooks or coffee tables, there is one thing businesses can do to ensure that their materials are sourced as sustainably as possible.
It all comes down to FSC - Forest Stewardship Council - certification. If you’re reading this, you probably know the drill, but even the everyday shopper will recognise the FSC logo, whether from picking up toilet paper in the local store or browsing for new furniture. Any product from a FSC certified business is clearly stamped with the FSC label, an unmistakable mark of its support for responsible forestry.
The FSC mission to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests also creates significant business value for products from FSC certified forests. In this way, FSC represents an alternative to boycotting forest products with a forward-thinking and forest-centric approach to the industry. This way, businesses can continue using wood, one of the most versatile natural materials we have, with the confidence that it is being afforded the respect and care it deserves.
So, what does being FSC certified really mean for business?
As an independent non-profit organisation, FSC protects forests for future generations and sets the standards from which both forests and companies are certified, delivering a host of environmental, social, and economic benefits. For businesses in the timber industry, securing FSC certification is currently the only standardised, gold-standard way of ensuring that you are helping to take care of the world’s forests rather than simply taking from them.
The Forest Stewardship Council was first established amidst rapid global deforestation. Distressed at the failure of the 1992 Earth Summit to reach an agreement to combat the issue, the FSC was formed by the coming together of businesses, environmentalists and community leaders united in their steadfast mission to improve forest practices worldwide. Today, FSC certification embodies this ethos: it is a demonstration of our shared mission for responsible forestry between businesses and communities. To us at VonWood, it represents a deep respect for the intrinsic connection we share with the earth. With FSC chain of custody certification, we can verify that exclusively FSC-certified material is used in the supply chain from forest to market where possible. This sense of supply chain integrity is key to continuing the use of timber in the years to come, without compromising the vitality of our forests.
Creating a real incentive for forest owners, managers, and businesses alike to follow best social and environmental practices, FSC has changed the game of the timber industry and delivers a secure future of responsible forestry. Now, thanks to our recently accredited FSC certification, we can be certain that the wood we use for business is truly renewable, recyclable, carbon-efficient, low-energy, and high-performance. Where forests are FSC certified, we protect the rich ecosystems we all need to live and breathe, and where our clients use FSC certified goods, they help to herald a more sustainable future for everyone.
With the mantra ‘Forests for all and forests forever’, FSC presents a steep ambition. We’re not so naive that we cannot recognise the pitfalls that come with it, or the times in the past that the rigorous standards imposed by the organisation have fallen short. To us, this is the reality of enacting global change: there is no quick fix, and the path is, more often than not, non-linear - but it is one we are committed to. As VonWood we are actually taking it a bit further by setting up our own forest for future generations.
Today, 200 million hectares of forest are certified to FSC standards and 50,000 companies hold FSC chain of custody certification. FSC boasts a governance structure based on participation, democracy, equity, and transparency. Acting as a platform for forest owners, timber industries, and social groups to come together to find solutions to improve forest management practices.
FSC certification does not just mean that the timber we source is from guaranteed sustainable forestry. It also fosters greater transparency, from the beginning of the supply chain right down to consumer activity. Recent years have seen consumers become increasingly environmentally aware, with Google searches for sustainable goods rising 71% globally since 2016. FSC certified products empower consumers across the world to consciously support responsible forestry. Making a sustainable shopping choice today can be as accessible an act as checking for the FSC label on your trip to the supermarket.
As the digital marketplace for sustainable timber direct from the sawmill, our goal is to make sustainable timber equally accessible by carving out an online space where supply meets demand. Being FSC certified assures we deliver the best quality timber that doesn’t cost us the earth - or more specifically, our forests that guard it. It means valuing our forests for what they offer us, from the air we breathe to the timber they supply. This way, we follow in the footsteps of those who came before us, from the foragers to the carpenters, while safeguarding the future for those to come.