What is sustainable timber?

Sustainable timber is sourced from forests that are responsibly harvested and managed following the FSCs (Forest Stewardship Council) social and environmental criteria. It is widely available and should cost marginally or no more than other timbers.


The FSC®(C020404) promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests, with its global forest certification. Their aim is to help local people and society to enjoy long term benefits and provide strong incentives to sustain forest resources. It is a non-profit organisation, with the forests being inspected and certified against strict standards. The forests that meet these standards are awarded the FSC certification and the timber from them is allowed to be branded with the FSC label.

The FSC also award Chain of Custody (CofC) certificates, which allows timber manufacturers, processors and traders to brand their products with the FSC label. This certificate identifies that the timber is tracked throughout the supply chain and gives assurances to the consumer that it is:

  • made from FSC certified timber or
  • contains wood from FSC certified forest or
  • is FSC certified post-consumer waste.

The certificate verifies that the material has been identified and / or segregated from non-certified or non-controlled material throughout the chain. The standards set out in the scheme ensures

  • the wood is accounted for at every step of the supply chain
  • when it is mixed with other woods they do not come from undesirable sources
  • that the recycled / reclaimed material is acceptable.

An example of products that may carry the label include: garden furniture, decking, gates, fences, sheds, conservatories, bird tables etc

Certified companies comply with the highest social and environmental standards and follow responsible practices in the manufacturing of their products. As public concern increases about the world’s forests and the impact on the timber resources, the FSC and other certification schemes give a credible solution for the consumer to purchase their products in an environmentally and socially conscious manner.

Other timber bodies and organisations that have similar schemes or promote the use of sustainable timber include:

PEFC www.pefc.co.uk

Forestry Commission www.forestry.gov.uk

Timber Trade Federation www.ttf.co.uk

TRADA www.trada.co.uk

Wood for Good www.woodforgood.com

Wood Protection Association www.wood-protection.org