The United States national office of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC–US) has launched the revised FSC-US Forest Management Standard for forest operations in the contiguous U.S. The revised standard has been approved by FSC International, which requires all accredited forest management standards to undergo a review and consider revision every five years.

“The revised standard captures the on-the-ground practices that represent genuine forest stewardship and provide the foundation for FSC-certified forestry in the U.S.,” said Corey Brinkema, president of FSC-US. “The completion of this effort, coupled with accelerating adoption by American retailers and manufacturers, provides a fantastic opportunity for promoting the values of forest stewardship and FSC with the American consumer.”

The revised US standard marks the end of a three year review and revision process, and streamlines nine regional standards into one national standard to reduce complexity and improve efficiencies in the management and auditing process. Regional variation is maintained in key areas of forest management and conservation where local conditions, including forest types and ecological processes, warrant different management techniques.

“The result is a standard that is challenging yet functional for forest managers and a marketplace label that consumers can trust to represent outstanding forest management,” said Mike Jani, FSC-US board member, Standards Committee member, and Chief Forester of the Humboldt Redwood Co. and Mendocino Redwood Co.

The new standard also comes with guidance statements that clarify the goals of the requirements and suggested tools for achieving them. These guidance statements are intended to encourage clear and consistent application of the standard.

The new standard also features a modified set of requirements that addresses challenges faced by small and low intensity managed forests. This allows for family forests (and other ownerships qualifying as small or low intensity) to be evaluated for FSC certification using a standard that takes into account the scale and intensity of small forest management operations.

The Family Forest Indicators are designed to reflect that certain FSC criteria (such as the capacity for forest management to affect local economies, larger social conditions, and large scale ecological processes) may not apply to family forests individually. Additionally, the certification procedures take into account the potential cumulative impacts of multiple family forests in close proximity on these same issues. In some cases new indicators have been developed to address conditions unique to small ownerships.

The revised standard is available for use immediately and all forests seeking FSC-certification but not currently FSC-certified should be evaluated to this revised standard. Those forests that are currently FSC-certified will have until Oct. 8, 2011, to be in conformance to this standard.