Wood is the natural material par excellence and has always accompanied the life of human beings. Versatile and durable, it is used to produce everyday objects such as chairs, tables, stools, armchairs and deck chairs; if of sustainable and traceable origin, it also has the characteristic of producing positive environmental, social and economic impacts.
Wood has played an important role in the history of civilization: thinking where we come from without taking into account forests and forest products is impossible.
Of course, things have changed over the centuries; technologies and trends have changed, and the use of this natural resource changed too. According to FAO data, in 2020 more than 4,800 million cubic meters of timber – mainly roundwood, sawnwood and wood-based panels – were produced globally. Although 23% of the EU’s roundwood production in 2020 was used as fuelwood, the remainder is industrial roundwood used for sawnwood and veneers, mainly in the construction and furniture sectors.
On one hand, this fact can encourage the use of forest resources as valid alternatives to materials such as plastic or concrete, which certainly have a greater carbon footprint; on the other hand, however, it can put forests at risk of overexploitation, negatively affecting the contribution they provide to biodiversity conservation and to mitigate climate change.
Using wood of certain, traceable and sustainable origin can contribute in many ways to eliminate this risk, encouraging responsible management practices and favoring a conscious approach to production chains.
1. Sustainable production
Sustainably producing wood means taking into consideration all the dimensions of which a forest is composed: think for example of how many communities in the world still depend today on forests as a means of subsistence or shelter, or of the natural services such as clean water and air that these areas offer us. Or again, of the importance of conserving biodiversity.
FSC certification ensures that the wood comes from forests managed according to high environmental, social and economic standards. This ensures that we can benefit from services and products today without compromising these functions for future generations.
The furniture industry makes extensive use of wood and demonstrating the impacts this generates in a forest can be anything but simple, even more so if the raw material comes from countries on the other side of the world.
Through independent bodies, FSC conducts annual audits in these areas and collects various types of data to monitor and evaluate performances against the desired change in forest management practices. This allows to measure the impacts and constantly improve the system.
The check mark and tree logo is found on millions of products around the world. Sure, but some might say, “So what? How can I trust a simple logo?”
FSC chain of custody (CoC) is the sustainable wood supply chain system that involves more than 50,000 companies worldwide buying, selling and trading FSC-certified material. This means that the wood processed within these supply chains is tracked and evaluated, ensuring the sustainable origin of the material.
Can we still just call it a logo?
How many steps does it take for a log of wood to become a table, or a chair, or the desk we work on? If we take an ideal supply chain we can easily count them: first the forest manager, then the logging company, the broker, the first and second processing. The reality, however, is much more complex, and it may take many stock changes before we see a finished product. Obviously, this implies the possibility that illegal practices or forest destruction can lurk along the supply chain.
Choosing certified wood helps to promote transparency and traceability of the raw material, from the forest to stores.
5. Market awareness
According to research conducted by GlobeScan for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in which 12,000 people in 15 countries participated, concerns about the loss of plant and animal species and the impact of deforestation are growing among consumers. Additionally, over 80% of respondents say they expect companies to ensure their wood and paper products do not contribute to deforestation.
This fact has changed the factors and consumption choices of people, who also declare that they place their trust in third-party certifications such as FSC and are willing to pay more for products of sustainable origin.