© WWF / Simon Rawles

Responsible Timber

We will need a lot more wood in the future. If we manage forests better and produce wood more efficiently, this should be good for the planet—particularly if we use wood instead of other materials that have a more negative ‘footprint’ on the environment.

How this timber is produced will impact on the world's last forest areas and the people that live in or depend on them—such as in the Heart of Borneo, the Amazon or the Congo Basin to name just a few.

Some parts of the industry have already begun the make changes towards better production and sourcing of timber. For WWF, that means becoming FSC-certified if you are cutting or growing trees, and buying and selling only FSC-certified timber products—regardless of whether you are a big multi-national, a government or an individual.
How can we move production to more sustainable practices? Find out about WWF's Market Transformation Initiative ►

Things need to change

Deforestation contributes about 20% of global climate change emissions – that is more than the emissions of all cars, bikes, trucks and planes around the world combined! When forestry companies blindly remove trees without taking impacts into consideration, wildlife such as tigers and elephants no longer have a place to live, and the people who depend on the forests lose their livelihood.
3x Projected increase in annual wood removals in 2050 compared to 2010 (source: WWF Living Forests Report)
242 - 304 million ha Plantation area outside of protected areas needed by 2050 to meet projected consumption (an area more or less equivalent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (lower range) and India (upper range)) (source: WWF Living Forests Report)

Through better forest stewardship, we can help protect vulnerable forests from illegal logging, encroachment or conversion to farmland.

There is a growing market for timber products that do not leave negative impacts in their wake. Key to make this happen is forest certification, a system of inspection and tracking timber, pulp and other forest products to ensure they have been harvested according to a strict set of guidelines. 

It’s more than just which trees to cut – forest certification also accounts for the social and economic well-being of workers and local communities.

► Read more why the forestry industry needs to minimize its environmental impact

Our approach

WWF has worked with timber companies, smallholders and communities around the world for decades, to help transform their practices in such a way that they can operate with reduced impacts on forests, wildlife and communities. Credible certification through the Forest Stewardship Council, co-established by WWF in 1993, was instrumental to make this happen.

WWF Targets

2020: 25% of global timber production is sourced from responsibly managed and/or credibly certified sources (e.g. FSC)


14% of global timber production is FSC certified (August 2015)

Certification will only protect forests if the system is credible. Otherwise it’s just a green label. 

WWF considers the FSC the most credible certification system to ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests. 

► Read more about WWF’s work on responsible forestry


We work with those who plant and cut trees to make sure this happens without threatening the environment or degrading people’s quality of life and wellbeing.

One way to make this happen is certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent organization. FSC certification is based on conservation efforts that go clearly beyond the law, and is the only forest certification scheme that requires companies to protect all high conservation values.

What is considered of high conservation value is clearly defined and includes environmental and social criteria, including the protection of sites and resources of high cultural importance to local communities or indigenous peoples.

FSC is also the only forest certification scheme with a robust control mechanism that requires yearly audits of certified forest companies to assess and verify that the criteria are implemented on the ground. These audits require consultation with all stakeholders affected by the forestry operations.

It is for these reasons, that for WWF, FSC is the certification label that best guarantees social and environmental responsible management of forests.


Negative impacts
Negative impacts on habitat, ecosystems and species loss, soil erosion, and carbon emissions (deforestation causes more carbon emissions than all global transport).
  • Currently, over 400 million people live in or near forests, and up to a billion of the world’s poorest people are dependent to some extent on forest resources for their survival;
  • Conservation benefits from reduced illegal logging and forest degradation;
  • Improved governance, ensuring sustainable forest products on the global market and safeguarding livelihoods.
Find out about other commodities we work on


► Forestry companies: Find out about FSC benefits, get certified by the FSC. This will open the door to new markets and a better, more sustainable way of doing business.

► Consumers: Shop for timber products with a clean conscience by choosing items with the FSC label.
	© FSC
    FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. fsc.org

Priority Countries

  • Production
    Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, West and Central Africa, Chile, Russia

    China, EU, USA.


  • Demand drivers
    Income, consumption, urbanization

    Future focus for success
    Increasing certified forest cover in priority places such as Africa, Asia and Latin America; expanding FSC certification to cover all kinds of forests, including forest plantations, land tenure and forest-based products


Great Apes and Logging

	© WWF - Great Apes and Logging (2009)

    WWF's 2009 report "Great Apes and Logging" indicates that protected areas are best able to support healthy great ape populations, but well-managed, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - certified responsible logging concessions in Africa and Southeast Asia can expand that protection.

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