For my final research paper I have decided to take a closer look at Forest Stewardship Council certification and analyzing the actual benefits of the certification system. The initial question that I proposed in my prospectus was whether or not FSC certified products were truly sustainable or merely an attempt at green-washing wood products. I was drawn to this subject due to the prevalence of wood products in our every-day lives from the homes we live in to the notebooks that we write in. I hoped to look into the requirements of certification and better understand how ecologically sustainable FSC products are.
Through additional research I realized that there was more to FSC certification than just the end product. There is more to measuring sustainability than from an ecological standpoint and it is necessary to examine it economically and socially as well. Due to this, I have expanded my originally question to address all three of these issues and have found a fair amount of information regarding them. From an ecological view it appears that certification is effective due to the encouragement of newer technologies and preserving biodiversity. It is also notable for its positive social effects which include improved worker safety and conditions. Worker provisions include implementation of changes such as improved working conditions, safety training, as well as safety equipment; all of which are important because of the inherent dangers of the industry. However, there is a problem with the economic accessibility behind FSC certification.
As of right now, FSC certification is more prominent among large industrial loggers in North America and Europe. These more-developed areas are more likely to become FSC certified than lesser-developed regions such as South America due to the differences in logging infrastructure. The logging industry in South America consists of smaller companies owned by families rather than large corporations and due to this it is a harder feat to achieve FSC certification than their northern counter-parts. This is especially troubling due to the fact that that the issues that certification can alleviate, such as preservation and worker safety, are not helping the regions that truly need it. This line of thinking ultimately led me to my proposed thesis of arguing that FSC certification provides positive economic and social benefits, but remains inaccessible to lesser-developed regions that are at economically disadvantaged.