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COVID-19 Updates News Forestry
FSC issues interpretation of audit process during COVID-19 outbreak


April 1, 2020
By P&PC Staff

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Forest on Vancouver IslandPhoto: rgbspace/Getty Images

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has modified its audit process for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak to mitigate loss of certification status.

Certification bodies

Certification bodies (CBs) that are unable to conduct on-site audits are permitted to either postpone the audit or replace it with desk audits.

“FSC is aware that desk audits cannot fully replace on-site audits, but we see this derogation as justified in the current situation: Our priority is to protect the health of staff of certification bodies and certificate holders, and to support global measures to minimize the spread of the virus,” the company says in a statement.

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“To mitigate the difference in audit intensity and enable us to monitor the situation, we are setting up additional reporting requirements for the CBs.”

Multi-site and group internal audits

FSC also released an interpretation for its chain of custody certification of multiple sites standard (FSC-STD-40-003 V2-1).

The interpretation indicates that internal audits of participating sites may be performed remotely in the case that COVID-19 presents a health risk or prevents travelling to the site due to travel restrictions.

Initial audits of new applicants cannot be replaced by remote audits, but it does offer an option for postponing the internal audit and the responsibility of documenting when this interpretation is applied.

FSC says the interpretation is valid until 31 December 2020, or until withdrawn.