The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded in 1993 to promote responsible forestry through the development of standards for conscientious use, management, and sustainability of the world's forests. It has received endorsements from such organizations as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. As of April 2008, more than 399,447 square miles of forests in 79 nations have been certified based on these standards. To date, GalleryCollection.com sells 83 corporate holiday cards and all occasion greeting cards as well as envelopes that are all produced from trees grown in these certified forests.
The FSC certification of these forests guarantees legal wood harvesting, along with the protection of areas home to abundant natural resources and endangered wildlife habitats. Certification also ensures that the rights of workers and local communities are honored and respected. But most importantly, it promises that future generations will be able to enjoy the benefits of forests across the globe.
Europe has been making the greatest efforts to manage and maintain the use of its forests. To date, 32 countries are home to FSC certified forests. Over 90% of the forests in Croatia and Ireland have received certification. Many eastern European nations have certified a large percentage of their woodlands including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In Russia, although only 2.5% of the forested land has been FSC-certified, this percentage is equal to more than 70,000 square miles, which is the second most square mileage of certified forests in a given country in the world.
In North America, although only four countries are home to forests that have been FSC-certified, combined they have over 132,000 square miles of certified land, which after Europe, is the largest amount globally. Only 7% of the forested land in Canada has received certification from the FSC; however, this percentage is equal to 91,000 square miles, the most of any country in the world. The United States, falling slightly behind Russia, has 38,500 square miles of certified forests.
In South America, less than 2% of Brazil's woodlands have been FSC-certified, but this percentage is equal to 23,870 square miles, the fourth largest amount of any country on a global scale. Uruguay, on the other hand, only has 8.6% of its land covered by forests, making it the country with the least amount of woodlands in South America. However, with almost 27% of its forests certified by the FSC, it also happens to be the country with the highest percentage of certified forests south of the Equator.
Many Asian and African nations have recently joined the FSC's efforts to conscientiously maintain and manage the forests of the world. India received certification within the past year, which to date only reflects two square miles of the country's forests. But as an industrializing nation with almost 290,000 square miles of woodlands, certification is bound to increase over the next several years. Other nations that are new to FSC certification include Laos, Vietnam, the Republic of Congo, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
For more information on FSC certification and for a complete overview of the organization's mission and history along with case studies and how to get involved, please visit the official FSC website.
**Additional information for this article was provided by the United Nations Statistics Division