New Procedure For Legal Stakeholder Management

Issuing of Corrective Action
Requests for Certification Bodies

Comparable to the evaluation of FMUs, the FSC provides a system that evaluates CBs towards the requirements of FSC-certification (FSC-accreditation).

This means that every CB is evaluated every year to establish whether it is qualified to do FSC-audits in compliance with FSC’s P&C.

In the same way as a CB can correct actions in FMUs, FSC is able to correct the actions of CBs, if there are non-compliances observed. These evaluations are done by ASI on behalf of FSC.

The content of the CAR
Non-conformity may be identified by ASI through audits or review of documentation of certification bodies, or through stakeholder notifications or complaints. The root cause of non-conformity shall be analysed by the lead auditor to determine the need for corrective action. According to its severity, non-conformity shall be graded as MINOR or MAJOR.19 MINOR non-conformity shall trigger a Minor CAR; a MAJOR non-conformity shall trigger a Major CAR. The following table gives an overview on the difference.

The CAR shall describe the nonconformity in a clear and concise manner with the required level of detail to allow the recipient to implement a meaningful corrective action.20

The procedures for Implementing Correction Action Requests are more or less the same if implemented through FMUs according to a non-complaint or implemented through ASI according to a non-conformity.21

An unsuccesful CAR – What now?
Whether or not a corrective action was successful is verified by ASI for each CAR. Measures for not implementing a Major CAR within the allotted time are additional surveillance audit(s) or recommendation of suspension of accreditation to the FSC Board of Directors.

If a Major CAR has not been closed out to the satisfaction of ASI within six (6) months after subsequent suspension of accreditation, and all reasonable attempts by ASI to encourage the certification body to rectify the non-conformance have failed, action shall be taken to withdraw accreditation or reduce the scope of accreditation.22

If a certification body does not fully implement a Minor CAR within the allotted time, the CAR will be upgraded to a Major CAR, unless the ASI Director grants an exceptional extension.23 It is not possible to downgrade a Major Car (see 5.2), but to close a Major Car and to open a Minor Car belonging the same issue.24

CARs and their implementation on this level must be recorded in evaluation reports. Public summaries of these reports are available on ASI’s website.

Is There Room In Your Business To Evaluate It’s Stakehlders?

Certification decision making and
issuing corrective action

Certification is about CBs’ decisions on the evaluation of a specific forest owner’s management in regard to FSC’s Principles and Criteria. In this process a CB evaluates whether an FMU’s management is in compliance with each indicator specified in the FSC-standards.

Although there will always be room for interpretation by doing this, it is comparatively easy if there is a national FSC-Standard in place. If not, the CB has to evaluate against an accredited Generic Standard. Generic Standards are necessary and important tools for CBs in areas where no national FSC-Standards have been developed by a National FSC Working Group.

You could say, they apply substance to the P&Cs and make them concrete in a national or regional context. As soon as a National FSC Working Group has a national Standard developed and accredited by ASI, all Generic Standards in this country are automatically replaced by this National FSC-Standard.

Room for interpretation
If you have identified non-compliances by forest owners, bear in mind that there is often room for interpretation that has to be seriously balanced and others may have a different interpretation of criteria. In the case of an accredited national FSC-Standard you can always consult the National Working Group on the intended meaning of a specific wording.

The Working Group might also help you in formulating your concerns towards the forest’s owner and the CB.

The obligations of the CB
All non-compliances identified shall be recorded in an evaluation report. The CB is obliged to publish a public summary of this report.

Each non-compliance shall be evaluated to determine whether it constitutes a MINOR or MAJOR non-compliance. In simple terms, a minor non-compliance is “tolerable” over a specific time, whereas a major non-compliance is a very “serious” matter that must be addressed immediately with clear defined timelines. The following table gives an overview on definitions and differences in how minor or major non-compliances can occur.15

The auditor may identify very minor problems or the early stages of a problem which does not itself constitute a non-compliance but which the auditor considers may lead to a future non-compliance if not addressed. Such observations should be recorded in the evaluation report as “observations”.16

Evaluation For Your Stakeholders


Are you a relevant Stakeholder?

Check Darzin stakeholder management software for more information on how to better develop a working relationship with your stakeholders.

  • You are an NGO active in social or environmental aspects of forest management
  • You are in the neighborhood of forests to be evaluated
  • You have information that is relevant to the compliance of the applicant forest owner with the requirements of FSC
  • You are a labor organization or union of forestry sector workers
  • You are a contractor that provides services to the forest operation to be assessed
  • You are a National Initiative
  • You are a state forest service
  • You represent indigenous people or forest using communities in the environment of the forests to be evaluated
  • You are an international NGO that has requested to be contacted in respect of evaluations of particular regions

Do you fit into one of the points above and do you think your input is appropriate? for more information click here

Congratulations – it seems that you are a relevant stakeholder. Your input should be considered!

Either you are already on a list of relevant stakeholders for a region or a specific FMU or you ask the responsible CB to be added to its list. If you don’t know the responsible CB ask the FMU. With this step you are guaranteed to be.

Public Summary Reports of Certification

Every FSC-certification is reported.

For every forest management certification a summary of the results is publicly available in a public certification report.

The summary has to be published on the CB’s website.

The public certification report shall contain specified information, such as a general description of consulted stakeholders, but also a general presentation of the observations on which the certification decision is based including a list of main strengths and main weaknesses and clear information to enable the reader to make an easy correlation between the requirements of each of the FSC Principles.

In cases where stakeholders have alleged a non-compliance, but the auditors have concluded that a certificate should be issued, the public summary shall explain why the auditors concluded there was no non-compliance. An explanation is also required when the alleged non-compliance was considered minor, or if action was taken prior to the issue of a certificate. A description of any preconditions that had been issued and the actions taken by the certificate holder to close out those preconditions should be included.10

Every public summary report must contain a list of all non-compliances that the FMU is required to correct in order to maintain their certification, including the time course within which corrective actions shall be taken.11

Surveillance Audits and Updates
A description of the actions taken by the FMU to correct any non-compliance identified at the previous audit must be included. Also information about the CB’s conclusion as to whether the actions taken constitute full compliance with the requirements of the concerned applicable FSC-Standard and if not, whether the remaining non-compliance is considered minor or major non-compliance. Any further identified non-compliances should be described.12

In cases where one or more stakeholders have alleged a non-compliance but the auditors have concluded that the certificate should be maintained, the updated summary shall explain why the auditors concluded there was no non-compliance, or why the alleged non-compliance was considered minor, and/or show how the allegation is explicitly linked to a new corrective action requirement.13

Systems & Procedures For Dealing With Your Stakeholders

Stakeholder Management Can Be Crucial To Your Companys Life Span


This document aims to help you, as a stakeholder, to improve forest management in FSC certified forests, on a local level, by using existing FSC procedures. The document outlines opportunities for collaboration in the case of local forests in the process of gaining FSC-certification or certified forests apparently not complying with the required FSC Principles and Criteria (P&C).

With its balanced three chamber system in the governance structure, the FSC-system is somewhat unique.

Stakeholders are invited to participate in the development and review of national forest certification standards. It is not only in the governance structure that stakeholders participate they can also directly monitor responsible forest management according to FSC’s principles and criteria.

Why do you need this post?

If a forest management operation aims for FSC certification it has to justify to a certification body that it can manage its forests according to FSC’s regulations. The certification body has to ask relevant national and local stakeholders to give comments on the intended certification. Any comments have to be dealt, with consideration, by the certifier, which means they have to be answered and addressed in some way.

But what are the options if things are going wrong and an FSC-certified forest management operation seems not to work according to the P&Cs and accredited national FSC-standards? How can stakeholders influence valid certificates and what are their rights in the FSC system? How can they check if the forest owner and the certification body who issued the FSC certificate are actually following FSC rules – the FSC principles and criteria and the different standards that apply?

And how do you, as a stakeholder, find your way through the many technical documents without losing sight of the overall picture?
Stakeholders often have no answers to these questions and can feel isolated and no longer involved.

With this guideline, we want to encourage YOU – as a stakeholder – to actively address your points in FSC certification.

How to use the guide 

The following guidelines explain what kind of regulations are in place and how you can use these FSC procedures to bring your perspective into consideration on all levels of the FSC system. This paper brings together all existing aspects of stakeholder involvement and explains FSC’s dispute resolution. Although several of these processes are currently being reviewed and revised,  we have tried to bring together all the necessary information to provide an overview of how the system is working at the moment. Please bear in mind that some details may be outdated when you start using this guide. We will try to update this guideline, as soon as possible, if there are major changes in the FSC system. However, it will always be the underlying and approved technical document that are the basis for any action in practical cases. In the following text you will find footnotes as references for the relevant technical documents. All documents are publicly available.