How does FSC ensure that Ecosystem Services are maintained?

Responsible forest management aims to maintain the full range of ecosystem services, taking care that more vulnerable and sensitive elements, such as threatened species or surface waters, are not impaired. It ensures that benefits are retained and impacts minimized, through consultations with local communities and their involvement in decision-making.

FSC has enshrined this holistic concept in its core standard, the FSC Principles & Criteria, devoting an entire principle to the maintenance of Ecosystem Services and environmental values (Principle 6). It is important that services and values present in the area are known and the adverse impacts on them minimised. 

Foresters should protect threatened species and ensure the continued existence of biological diversity. Water courses and bodies, as well as riparian zones, need to be protected, and the forest structured so that it is in harmony with its natural dynamics and the overall landscape.

Another principle requires forest managers to identify and respect outstanding values inherent in their forests and to use a precautionary approach for their conservation (Principle 9). These High Conservation Values have been divided into six broader categories that cover a wide spectrum, ranging from species diversity to cultural values. 

A special guide is available that informs smallholders how to effectively conserve biodiversity and High Conservation Values within their forests.