The European Parliament, in its 1996 report on the European Forestry strategy, describes the need for: "... a recognised international certification system, as regards the sustainable management of forests. The certification should be transparent, voluntary, non-discriminatory and should take account of the specific ecological, biological and socio-economic characteristics of each country including forest ownership patterns. Certification should fully meet the objective assigned to it of enhancing economically, socially and ecologically sustainable use of forests in full compliance with national, EU and international legislation."
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non- profit, non-governmental international organisation. It is an association of Members founded by a diverse group of representatives from environmental and social groups, the timber trade and the forestry profession, indigenous people's organisations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organisations from around the world. Membership is open to all who share its aims and objectives. It provides an umbrella organisation and structure within which qualified independent certifiers can operate according to clear guidelines and using agreed standards covering social, environmental and economic aspects of forest management drawn up by professionals in forestry as well as in ecology and in rural and social development. The Forest Stewardship Council accredits certification organisations in order to guarantee the authenticity of their claims. In all cases the process of certification will be initiated voluntarily by forest owners and managers who request the services of a certification organisation. The goal of FSC is to promote environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests, by establishing a world-wide standard of recognised and respected Principles of Forest Stewardship.