Overview of the FFCS System
The abbreviation FFCS stands for the Finnish Forest Certification System. The FFCS is suited to Finland's forest owner structure dominated by small-scale family forestry. When necessary, the Scheme can be linked to international forest certification and labelling systems. Certification against the FFCS scheme demonstrates impartially and reliably how the certified forests are managed and used.
The FFCS System has all the essential elements of forest certification: the requirements for forest management and use, chain of custody certification and qualification criteria for external auditing.
The FFCS requirement for forest management and use and rules are presented in FFCS standards. Conformity to these criteria is assessed by an impartial third party i.e. a certification body.
The use of a product label i.e an environmental label requires that a wood processing company has a certified system which can verify the chain of custody of wood.
The FFCS System includes, in addition, to forest certification, also certification of the chain of custody control system. A chain of custody control system can demonstrate that a product includes wood fibre originating from a certified forest. In this way FFCS provides an opportunity to use product labels informing about forest certification.
The FFCS does not have a national product label, but it is designed to be compatible with the requirements of international labelling schemes and can be incorporated with them. The approach in the development of the FFCS has been that it can be harmonised with international forest certification schemes and with the management system standards of International Standardization Organization (ISO) and European Union.
Credibility of Certification
Impartiality, competence and transparency are the basic qualities of a credible certification system.
The Finnish Forest Certification System (FFCS) conforms to these requirements in the following way: the system is based on independent third party audits. The standard is set by a separate Working Group on Forest Certification Standards, and not e.g., by an accredition or a certifying body. The Working Group on Forest Certification Standards develops the criteria in an open and transparent process.
Differences of opinion in relation to the application of the system are dealt with by an independent tribunal. The rules of the schemes and procedures are precisely defined and available to everyone.
The FFCS sets the qualification requirements for the certifying bodies and auditors. Independent national accreditation bodies verify the conformity to the qualification requirements as defined in accreditation procedures.
The FFCS was tested on area exceeding 10 millions hectares before the forest certification was officially started.