© James Morgan

Certification through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a qualification for forest products that verifies the social and environmental responsibility of the production processes. In order for a forest owner to obtain FSC certification for the product they are producing on their land, they have to adhere to a set of forest management standards that ensure protection of water, prevent harvesting of rare old-growth forest, prevent loss of natural forest cover, prohibit usage of highly hazardous chemicals and follow a list of standards to protect labourers and community right .

Deforestation statistics

  • According to the statistics of the Forest Protection Department, (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), in the first 9 months of 2017, 155.68 hectares of forest were cut down and 5.364.85 hectares of forest were burnt. The area of natural forests across the country has been seriously reduced. In particular, the forest cover in 2018 is 41.65%. The area of primary forest is only about 10%.

Importance of forestry sector

  • In Viet Nam, one of the biggest advantages that forest owners receive from FSC certification is access to higher end markets around the world. In European markets, consumers are often willing to pay more for forest products like furniture or paper if they know that they come from sustainable sources that are not contributing to deforestation. This earns the forest owners higher revenues and establishes market linkages that stabilize business for them.

© WWF-Viet Nam / Thanh The Vinh

How does FSC help all forests, not just plantations?

For households that own forests, unless they can profit from keeping the forests standing they will likely cut them for timber or convert them to more profitable uses like monoculture cropland or animal grazing. FSC certification offers households a way to earn a higher living from sustainably managed standing forests, which is good for people and nature. 

As long as forests aren’t cleared to make way for them, plantations can be a source of timber that takes logging pressure off of nearby natural forests. But poor practices at plantations can make them less productive while polluting water sources and ruining topsoil. 

In Viet Nam, agricultural conversion is one of the biggest threats to natural forests. By supporting sustainable forest plantations that earn higher incomes for forest owners, we help prevent more forest from being converted and ensure that those forests are beneficial to biodiversity and maintain functioning ecosystem services like clean water and stabilized soil.

For more information about FSC please visit https://fsc.org/en

© Martin Harvey / WWF