Chapada dos Veadeiros (Goiás, Brazil) 2020, by Helena Leonel Ferreira

In the middle of the ecological and climate crisis we are facing, responsible forest management and protection of forests will lay a crucial role. If protected and well-managed, forests provide important benefits (also known as “ecosystem services”) in terms of CO2 sequestration and storage, biodiversity conservation, improvement of water quality, and many more.

In 2018, FSC launched the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure. The procedure is a tool that allows FSC-certified forest owners and managers to identify, measure, and externally verify the positive impacts of responsible forest management on five categories of ecosystem services. The main objective of this Procedure is to facilitate the access to ecosystem services markets and funds and financial resources for guaranteeing the restoration or conservation of the ecosystem services themselves.

Since 2018, the Procedure has been tested and applied by many forest managers all over the world. Numerous companies have sponsored positive impacts on ecosystem services to develop projects that benefit both nature and local communities. From the beginning, Etifor has prioritized the ES PRO as our preferred tool for demonstrating positive impacts on ecosystem services due to its rigor and clarity. However, with an exponentially-growing international ecosystem services market – not only when it comes to carbon, historically the driving market, but also when it comes to biodiversity and water resources – the need for an evolution in the positioning of FSC and its Procedure in these markets emerged.

Chapada dos Veadeiros (Goiás, Brazil) 2020, by Helena Leonel Ferreira

For this reason, the FSC International Assembly – composed by hundreds of representatives from the environmental, social, and economic sectors from all over the world – has decided, through a policy motion, that FSC will have to position itself as a leading, high-integrity international standard for the certification of forest ecosystem services in support of impact mitigation strategies, including net-positive, and net-zero objectives of companies, organizations, and governments.

The motion, presented by Etifor and two other members (belonging respectively to the social and environmental chambers), was approved with an overwhelming and broad support. “Yes” won obtaining 86% of the votes, reaching 90% in the economic chamber, 89% in the environmental chamber, and 78% in the social chamber. The assembly clearly agrees that the proper valuation of ecosystem services will bring numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Therefore, the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure is a tool that can be used by private and public organizations to demonstrate their progress towards meeting sustainability and social and environmental responsibility targets. Thanks to the benefit sharing mechanism, foreseen by the Motion, it is ensured that the resources committed by the sponsors of ecosystem services effectively and efficiently get to the ground, to the forests, and to the communities that live and manage them.

Thus, the approval of this motion clearly indicates the way forward to the Technical Working Group entrusted by FSC to review the Procedure. Etifor is also part of the group with Wesley Snell’s participation.

Alessandro Leonardi, CEO of Etifor, comments: “The FSC framework will drive innovation and integrity to the existing ecosystem service market, providing a fair and credible alternative to the dominant credit-based system: Ours will be a short-supply chain collaborative model where the land tenure and benefits remain in the hands of forest communities. Very soon we will clarify how FSC-certified forest managers, responsible companies, governments, and financial institutions can cooperate to preserve what’s left of our precious natural resources and meet the urgent need for restoration and improvement.”