We answer your questions relating to FSC and PEFC Timber
When you are looking at timber for a project, there’s a lot of choices and things to consider. But there’s one thing you should never skip - ensuring that it has the right certification. The most common one in the UK is FSC Certified - from the Forest Stewardship Council. Another is PEFC or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
But what do these mean and how does it impact the wood you are buying?
What is FSC timber?
The FSC is a non-profit organisation that works to ensure a high standard of forestry is practised that involves environmentally responsible practices and wood logged in a socially beneficial manner.
The FSC is considered the gold standard for wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed, economically viable and conscious and socially beneficially. It allows the wood to be traced to the sustainably managed forest and cuts out many of the low quality, environmentally reckless or downright illegal forestry practices out there.
Why this matters
Did you know that forests cover nearly one-third of the planet’s land? But we are using it at a rapid rate and in some areas, there’s little concern for the longevity of the forest, only for the profit of selling the wood. Some parts of the world are seeing forest depletion at an unprecedented rate - one that cannot be maintained.
Then there’s the legal and illegal logging of primary forests. At the current rate, within as little as 10 years, these amazing areas of forest will be gone from parts of Asia, African and South America - along with the species that call them home.
Not only that but there will be a crucial gap in the available resources if the forests aren’t managed properly. So while things like environmental standards and biodiversity might seem removed from everyday life, the inability to buy timber for furniture or projects is a lot closer to home.
Understanding FSC labels
When you look at the timber, you should be able to either see the FSC labels or the seller will have the relevant paperwork and certificates for it. There are three main labels:
FSC 100 percent - product comes from FSC-certified forests
FSC recycled - made from reclaimed materials
FSC mixed - at least 70% of the wood comes from either FSC-certified forests or recycled material while the remaining 30% comes from controlled wood
If you want to check ahead of time, you can use the Global FSC Certificate Database where there’s a Product Classification tool. This lets you look up companies, importers and exports to see what standard they use. You can even search by the type of product such as for outdoor furniture or veneer.
What is PEFC?
PEFC is a non-profit organisation that works to promote sustainable forest management throughout the whole forest supply chain to ensure the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. Their ‘green trees’ logo is recognised around the world.
Here in the UK, they operate their certification system as well as various other projects that include the UK Woodland Assurance Standard, a national certification standard for forest management.
What’s the difference between FSC and PEFC?
Both of these standards help the ordinary consumer to make sure they are buying high quality, sustainably sourced timber. But should you look for one over the other?
Honestly, as a consumer, not really. Both of these organisations are working to the same cause and the main difference is how they certify the wood. The FSC scheme was originally created for tropical areas and not as much for Europe. The PEFC was created specifically for European forests and is now recognised in over 30 countries.
The FSC logo tends to be the one most people recognise. But as long as wood contains one or the other, then you can be confident in the quality and environmentally sound practices that went into it being in that store for you to buy.
At Armstrong Supplies 100% of the Joist Timber we sell comes from FSC/PEFC certified suppliers