Principle 5: Benefits From the Forest Principle 6: Environmental Impact Principle 7: Management Plan Principle 8: Monitoring and Assessment Principle 9: Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests Principle 10: Plantations Principle 1: Compliance with Laws and FSC Principles Principle 2: Tenure and Use Rights and Reponsibilities Principle 3: Indigenous People's Rights Principle 4: Community Relations and Workers' Rights


PRINCIPLE #6: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.

 

6.1 Assessment of environmental impacts shall be completed appropriate to the scale, intensity of forest management and the uniqueness of the affected resources -- and adequately integrated into management systems. Assessments shall include landscape level considerations as well as the impacts of on-site processing facilities. Environmental impacts shall be assessed prior to commencement of site-disturbing operations.

 

6.1.a. Using available science and local expertise, an assessment of current conditions is completed, which includes: (1) ecological processes, such as disturbance regimes; (2) unique, vulnerable, rare, and threatened communities and habitats; (3) common plants, animals, and their habitats; (4) sensitive, rare, threatened, and endangered species and their habitats; (5) water resources; and (6) soil resources.

 

6.1.b. Using available science and local expertise, the current ecological conditions are compared to the historical conditions within the landscape context, using the baseline factors identified in 6.1.a.

 

6.1.c. Prior to the commencement of management activities, potential short-term environmental impacts and their cumulative effects are evaluated.

 

6.1.d. Using assessments derived from the above information, options are developed for maintaining and/or restoring the long-term ecological functions of the forest.

 

 

6.2. Safeguards shall exist which protect rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats (e.g., nesting and feeding areas). Conservation zones and protection areas shall be established, appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management and the uniqueness of the affected resources. Inappropriate hunting, fishing, trapping and collecting shall be controlled.

 

6.2.a. If scientific data indicate the likely presence of a sensitive, rare, threatened, or endangered species, either a new survey is conducted prior to management activities being carried out (to verify the species presence) or the forest owner or manager assumes its presence.

 

6.2.b. When a sensitive, rare, threatened, or endangered species is present or assumed to be present, the necessary modifications are made in both the management plan and its implementation. Management activities are compatible with the maintenance, improvement, or restoration of the species and its habitat.

 

6.2.c. Within the context of existing landscape and ownership patterns, conservation zones for sensitive, rare, threatened, and endangered species and other protected areas are arranged to enhance the viability of habitats, including their connectivity.

 

6.3 Ecological functions and values shall be maintained intact, enhanced, or restored, including:
a) Forest regeneration and succession.
b) Genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity.
c) Natural cycles that affect the productivity of the forest ecosystem.

Applicability to Old-Growth

In old-growth forests that are not designated as High Conservation Value Forests (see Principle 9), timber harvest may be allowed when: (1) the forest type is locally abundant, (2) harvest patterns are consistent with natural disturbance regimes, and (3) the stand has reached over-maturity (the expected life span of the dominant tree species has been reached). In a forest that contains old-growth trees, as large trees are recruited, harvest of those trees may be permitted as long as the qualities and characteristics they provide are maintained.

 

A. Forest Regeneration and Succession

6.3.a.1. Forest owners or managers use information on landscape patterns (e.g., land use/land cover, non-forest uses, habitat types); ecological characteristics of adjacent forested stands (e.g., age, productivity, health); species requirements; and frequency, distribution, and intensity of natural disturbances to make management decisions.

Applicability of this indicator may be limited for managers of small and mid-sized forest properties because of their limited ability to coordinate their activities with other owners within the landscape, or to significantly maintain and/or improve landscape scale vegetative patterns.

 

6.3.a.2. Forest owners or managers maintain or restore a range of age classes of trees in the landscape, including large/old trees, where they are under-represented.

 

6.3.a.3. Silvicultural practices result in species composition and structures similar to a successional phase that occurs naturally on the site.

 

6.3.a.4. When even-aged management is employed, trees and native vegetation are retained within the harvest unit in a proportion and configuration that mimics non-catastrophic natural disturbance patterns, unless retention at a lower level is necessary for restoration or rehabilitation purposes.

 

B. Genetic, Species, and Ecosystem Diversity

6.3.b.1. There is a scientific basis for selecting trees for harvest, retention, and planting that maintains productive capacity, genetic diversity, and species diversity of the residual stand.

 

6.3.b.2. Habitats for mammals, birds, and amphibians are protected, maintained, or developed.

    For example:

  • trees that may be valuable for cavity nesters
  • vertical and horizontal structure
  • the structural and species diversity of the forest understory
  • a random distribution of large woody debris
  • habitats and refugia for sedentary species and those with special habitat requirements

 

6.3.b.3. Locally adapted seed of known provenance is used for artificial regeneration.

 

C. Natural Cycles that Affect the Productivity of the Forest Ecosystem

6.3.c.1. Coarse woody debris, in the form of large fallen trees, large logs, and snags of various sizes, is maintained to ensure soil productivity.

 

6.3.c.2. Post-harvest management activities maintain soil fertility, structures, and functions.

    For example:

  • Slash is randomly distributed across the harvest area.
  • Burning is used where it is appropriate to the natural disturbance regime.

 

6.3.c.3. Prescriptions for salvage harvests balance ecological and economic considerations.

    For example:
  • Adequate coarse woody debris is maintained.
  • Adequate den trees and snags are maintained.
  • Endemic levels of pest populations are allowed before pest control actions are carried out.

 

6.3.c.4. In response to soil quality degradation, indicated by declining fertility or forest health, forest owners or managers modify soil management techniques.

For example:

  • Primary management objectives shift from commercial production to restoration.
  • Site preparation is minimized.
  • Road system design and construction is upgraded.
  • The lightest practical equipment with the best weight distribution is used.
  • Whole-tree harvesting is discontinued, and tops are left in the forest.
  • Longer rotations and a diversity of species are used in lieu of artificial fertilization.

 

6.4 Representative samples of existing ecosystems within the landscape shall be protected in their natural state and recorded on maps, appropriate to the scale and intensity of operations and the uniqueness of the affected resources.

Applicability: When forest management activities, including timber harvest, create and maintain conditions that emulate an intact, mature forest or other successional phases that may be under-represented in the landscape, the management system that created those conditions may be used to maintain them, and the area may be considered as a representative sample for the purposes of meeting this criterion.

Ecologically viable representative samples are designated to serve one or more of four purposes: (1) to establish and/or maintain an ecological reference condition, (2) to create or maintain an under-represented ecological condition (e.g., successional phases of a forest type or plant community), (3) to protect a feature that is unique in the landscape, and/or (4) to allow ecological processes and functions to take their normal course.

 

6.4.a. With respect to the purposes of representative samples noted above,

(1) and (2) may move across the landscape as under-represented conditions change, or may be fixed in area and manipulated to maintain the desired conditions.

(3) and (4) are fixed areas designed to protect a feature or long-term ecological processes (e.g., succession, fire, or flooding) and functions (e.g., habitat, nutrient cycling, and hydrologic cycles).

 

6.4.b. Where existing protected areas within the landscape are not of a size and configuration to serve the above purposes, forest owners or managers, whose properties are conducive to the establishment of such areas (see examples), designate ecologically viable areas that contribute to the improved representation of the under-represented conditions. The size and arrangement of on-site and off-site representative sample areas are designated, documented, and justified.

Applicability: Forests of all sizes may be conducive to protection of fixed features, such as rock outcrops and bogs. Medium sized and large forests may be more conducive to the maintenance of successional phases and disturbance regime than small forests.

 

6.4.c. Forest owners or managers have a process in place to identify representative sample areas. This may include collaborations and gap analyses with state natural heritage programs, public agencies, regional private conservation efforts, universities, and local conservationists.

 

6.4.d. The size and extent of representative samples on public lands is determined through a transparent planning process that is accessible to the public.

 

6.5 Written guidelines shall be prepared and implemented to: control erosion; minimize forest damage during harvesting, road construction, and all other mechanical disturbances; and protect water resources.

 

6.5.a. Forestry operations meet or exceed the current best management practices for forestry and the protection of water quality that exist within the state(s) or other appropriate jurisdiction(s) in which the operations occur.

 

6.5.b. Treatment areas including roads and riparian protection zones are shown on project maps.

 

Logging and Site Preparation

6.5.c. Logging operations and construction of roads, skid roads, and landings are conducted only during periods of weather when soil conditions facilitate minimization of compaction, surface erosion, or sediment transport into streams and other bodies of water.

      For example, soils are either dry enough or frozen enough to minimize disturbance and compaction.

     

    6.5.d. Logging damage to regeneration and residual trees is minimized during harvest operations.

     

    6.5.e. The intensity of logging activities decreases as slope, erosion hazard rating, and/or soil instability increase. Areas that exhibit an extreme risk of landslide are excluded from logging.

     

    6.5.f. Plans for site preparation specify the following mitigations to minimize impacts to the forest resources:

      1. Non-mechanical or low-impact site preparation techniques are preferentially used, particularly in sensitive areas; saturated, highly erodible, or compacted soils; and riparian management zones.
      2. Slash is concentrated only as much as necessary to achieve the goals of site preparation and the reduction of fuels to moderate or low fire hazard levels.
      3. Scarification of soils is limited to the minimum necessary to achieve successful regeneration of desired species.
      4. Topsoil is minimally disturbed.

     

    Transportation System (including permanent and temporary haul roads, skid trails, and landings)

    6.5.g. The transportation system is designed, constructed, maintained, and/or reconstructed to minimize the extent of the road network and its potential adverse effects.

      For example:

    • Displacement of soil and the sedimentation of streams, as well as other impacts to water quality, are minimized.
    • Patches of habitat and migration corridors are conserved as much as possible, especially in roadless areas.
    • The integrity of riparian management zones and buffers surrounding other valuable ecological elements (e.g., wetlands, habitat for sensitive species, and interior old-growth forest) is conserved.

     

    6.5.h. Roads without a weather resistant surface (e.g., soil, dirt, or native-surfaced roads) are used only during periods of weather when conditions are favorable to minimize road damage, surface erosion, and sediment transport.

     

    6.5.i. Temporary logging access roads and skid trails are closed, with proper erosion control measures, between operations.

     

    6.5.j. Failed drainage structures or other areas of active erosion caused by roads and skid trails are identified, and measures are taken to correct the drainage problems and stabilize erosion.

     

    Stream and Water Quality Protection

    6.5.k. (Instruction: Regional working groups are to define:

      • Limits of logging operations based on the quantitative aspects of slope, soil stability, and stream characteristics
      • Management limitations near bodies of water
      • Widths and characteristics of riparian management zones
      • Other provisions related to water quality protection)

     

    6.5.l. Stream crossings are located and constructed to minimize fragmentation of aquatic habitat and maintain water quality.

      For example:

    • Riparian management zone crossings are kept to a minimum.
    • Stream crossings are perpendicular to the waterway.
    • Culverts allow free passage of aquatic organisms.

     

    6.6 Management systems shall promote the development and adoption of environmentally friendly non-chemical methods of pest management and strive to avoid the use of chemical pesticides. World Health Organization Type 1A and 1B and chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides; pesticides that are persistent, toxic or whose derivatives remain biologically active and accumulate in the food chain beyond their intended use; as well as any pesticides banned by international agreement, shall be prohibited. If chemicals are used, proper equipment and training shall be provided to minimize health and environmental risks.

     

    6.6.a. Control of pests, invasive species, and unwanted vegetation is addressed through a balanced program that integrates ecological, economic, and social factors into forest management decisions.

     

    6.6.b. Forest management preferentially relies on alternative methods to chemicals for controlling unwanted pests and vegetation.

      For example, evaluation of pest population levels is conducted, action thresholds are established, and mechanical methods and/or prescribed fires are used for pest and vegetation control when feasible and economical.

     

    6.6.c. Forest owners or managers minimize dependence on chemical and other pest control applications by diversifying species composition, structures, and age classes, and by promoting conditions that enhance natural predators of pests.

     

    6.6.d. When chemicals are being used, a written prescription is prepared that fully describes the risks and benefits of their use and the precautions that workers must employ. Records are kept of pest occurrences, control measures, and incidences of exposure of workers to chemicals.

    For example, there are few or no occurrences of chemical exposure to workers.

     

    6.7 Chemicals, containers, liquid and solid non-organic wastes including fuel and oil shall be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner at off-site locations.

     

    6.7.a. In the event of a spill of hazardous material, forest owners or managers immediately contain the material, report the spill as required by applicable regulations, and engage qualified personnel to perform the appropriate removal and remediation.

     

    6.7.b. Broken and leaking equipment and parts are repaired or removed from the forest; discarded parts are taken to a designated disposal facility.

     

    6.7.c. Equipment is not parked in riparian management zones, near sinkholes, or ground water supplies, where fluids may leak into them.

     

    6.8 Use of biological control agents shall be documented, minimized, monitored and strictly controlled in accordance with national laws and internationally accepted scientific protocols. Use of genetically modified organisms shall be prohibited.

    Applicability: Genetically improved (i.e., Mendelian crossed) organisms are not considered to be genetically modified organisms, and may be used.

     

    6.8.a. Exotic (i.e., non-indigenous), non-invasive predators or biological control agents are used only as part of a pest management strategy for the control of exotic species of plants, pathogens, insects, or other animals when other pest control methods are, or can reasonably be expected to prove, ineffective. Such use is contingent upon peer-reviewed scientific evidence that the agents in question are non-invasive and are safe for indigenous species.*

    *For example, exotic species can host pathogens that might diminish biodiversity in the forest.

     

    6.9 The use of exotic species shall be carefully controlled and actively monitored to avoid adverse ecological impacts.

     

    6.9.a. Species of exotic trees (those from outside of the biome) are not used in plantings [after endorsement of these standards, see 10.4.a.]. The use of other exotic plant species (for erosion control, landscaping, etc.) is contingent on peer-reviewed scientific evidence that any species in question is non-invasive and does not diminish biodiversity. When non-invasive exotic non-tree plant species are used, the location of their use, the extent of their efficacy, and their provenance are documented.

     

    6.9.b. Forest owners or managers develop and implement control measures for invasive exotic plants, as practical.

     

    6.10 Forest conversion to plantations or non-forest land uses shall not occur, except in circumstances where conversion: a) entails a very limited portion of the forest management unit; and
    b) does not occur on high conservation value forest areas; and c) will enable clear, substantial, additional, secure, long term conservation benefits across the forest management unit.

     

    6.10.a. Forest to non-forest conversion may be carried out only: (1) for restoration of a natural community in a manner consistent with the management plan, or (2) for residential or recreational purposes, when such conversions are confined to a small percentage of the forest. (See criterion 10.9 for provisions regarding conversion of natural forest to plantations.)

     

    6.10.b. Areas of the forest may be sold for the purpose of converting the land to uses other than forestry only when a forest owner or manager demonstrates that the sale supports forest management goals and objectives.

     

    Principle 1:Compliance with Laws and FSC Principles
    Principle 2: Tenure and Use Rights and Responsibilities
    Principle 3: Indigenous People's Rights | Principle 4: Community Relations and Workers Rights
    Principle 5: Benefits from the Forest
    | Principle 6: Environmental Impact | Principle 7: Management Plan
    Principle 8: Monitoring and Assessment | Principle 9: Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests
    Principle 10: Plantations