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