Ahead of his retirement in early 2015, Charles Thwaite MBE, who had served as FSC UK executive director since 2007, was tasked with appointing a new leader for the organisation.

Having worked at FSC UK for eight years, it was time to make an important decision; should I apply for the directorship or look to move to pastures new? Then I went to Seville and experienced my first FSC general assembly and witnessed its three chambers (environmental, social and economic) in action. It was a turning point.

Whilst director of Wales Wildlife and Countryside Link, an NGO umbrella body, I learnt about the challenges of reaching consensus. But there I was bringing together organisations which were almost exclusively environmental. FSC groups such bodies into one, environmental chamber and then adds two more for good measure. Some might call it madness! And yet it works, and never more visibly than at its triennial General Assembly.

All three chambers are driven by a desire to make FSC work and are happy to dance together at the end of Assembly party to the likes of Do The (FSC) Logo Motion. I decided I wanted to share in this party for a good while longer.

Today FSC is the world’s strongest forest environmental certification system, with more than 29,500 certificate holders in 81 countries worldwide, 8% of them UK companies.

Over 180 million hectares of forests are FSC certified, including more than half the UK’s forest area, and FSC certified timber is estimated to constitute 16.6% of global industrial roundwood.

And in October 2015 we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of FSC UK. Key contributors were invited to the London Aquatics Centre to commemorate the UK journey of FSC; from our first labelled product (a Sainsbury’s spatula) to the use of certified red louro for the whale-like roof of the Centre. The latter, of course, also forms part of the 2012 Olympics park, where 67% of the timber was FSC certified, sitting next to the Athletes’ Village, where that figure rose to over 98%.

People sometimes think that FSC was created by NGOs, and the WWF did play a key role, but maybe less well-known is that so did B&Q. And today it is backed by many more big industry names. The latest WWF environmental performance ‘timber scorecard’ awarded its top ‘three trees rating’ to Travis Perkins, Mace, Saint- Gobain and Carillion, all of which have achieved FSC chain of custody or project certification.

We know that a huge part of the UK timber industry, the beating heart of the forest product supply chain, doesn’t just consider FSC a ‘nice-to-have’, but a fundamental part of their business. We are proud of what has been accomplished in the last 20 years and look forward to the next 20 as we continue, with the help of all those within the system, to strive for Forests For All Forever.