There are three FSC labels: FSC 100%, FSC Mix and FSC Recycled. FSC controlled wood is uncertified virgin wood or wood fibre that can be mixed with FSC-certified material in products that carry the FSC Mix label. The mixing of FSC and non-FSC materials in FSC products has helped to enable the growth of FSC. However, this mixing has created a conflict between credibility and accessibility.

FSC has been engaging with stakeholders for more than two years to agree on a shared vision for the future of ‘FSC Mix’ products and the controlled wood used to produce them. A draft controlled wood strategy is open for stakeholder feedback until September 17.

Controlled wood has its origin in the FSC Policy on Percentage Based Claims that came into effect in 1997. Prior to this, the chain of custody standard was straightforward in requiring that FSC-labelled products be solely comprised of material from FSC-certified forests. The 1997 policy alleviated the supply bottlenecks and facilitated labelling, but lack of control of the non-certified material in FSC-certified products attracted criticism.

The term ‘controlled wood’ was coined in 2004 and today the FSC standards require the risk assessment of forest materials in FSC-certified products to ensure the exclusion of: illegally harvested wood; wood harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights; wood harvested in forests in which high conservation values are threatened by management activities; wood harvested in forests being converted from natural and semi-natural forest to plantations or non-forest use; and wood from forests containing genetically modified trees.

In 2011 FSC members passed Motion 51 with the goal of strengthening the controlled wood system and latest FSC requirements for sourcing controlled wood became effective in 2016.

In accordance with the FSC’s Global Strategic Plan 2015-2020, it is now developing a controlled wood strategy exploring new approaches towards responsible sourcing, including creating positive impacts on forests through non-certified supply chains. The outcome will help to decide the future requirements for mixing within FSC-certified products.

All elements of a draft controlled wood strategy are open for public consultation. The strategy specifies the ultimate objective of reducing the FSC system’s reliance on ‘FSC Mix’ products and the controlled wood they use.

This overall objective is sub-divided into eight, each elaborated upon by a number of related actions. Actions will be included in the final strategy, or not, based on support demonstrated in the consultation.

An advisory group to the controlled wood strategy will review the feedback, and incorporate the results into the final document to be presented to the FSC International Board of Directors at the end of 2018.

Given the prevalence of FSC controlled wood and FSC Mix products in the UK, interested parties are encouraged to submit their responses via