In 2010, the Forest Stewardship Council – US Initiative (FSC-US) introduced a revised forest management standard that applies to FSC certification audits throughout the United States. Within the new FSC-US Forest Management Standard, one of the most significant changes is the inclusion of specific indicators and guidance that uniquely apply to the auditing of family forestlands. The FSC-US policies define family forestlands eligible to be audited under these new indicators as ownerships that are up to 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) in size or where harvest intensity is low . It is estimated that at least a half-million woodland owners in the United States own between 100 and 2,500 acres for a total of approximately 115 million acres of forestland. By qualifying to be audited under these new “Family Forest Indicators”, owners of small properties may see a more streamlined FSC auditing process and reduced auditing costs.
This report reviews the new FSC-US Forest Management Standard and the new indicators and guidance that apply to family forestlands. An evaluation of the scope and scale of change is included as well as a discussion of the impacts and benefits.