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Comparison of California logging laws and FSC standards

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This page compares Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood[1] and wood harvested under California Logging Regulations.

California Logging Regulations[edit]

In California, as of 1999, 45% of the producing forest land is owned by private individuals and companies. [2] However to harvest this lumber the owners must have a detailed management plan prepared, which is then reviewed by the state. Often times due to the many regulations for logging in California, the costs to harvest timber on a property are greater than the gain. With the balancing act loggers face to abide by state regulation and turning a profit, wood supply is often imported into California.

The authors of a study on private forestland management at Cal Poly State University-San Luis Obispo say "California forestlands are some of the most legally protected privately owned forests in the world. Multiple layers of federal, state, county and local regulations ensure that timber will be managed in a sustainable manner," but they go on to say that this can lead to micro-managing that may not be good for the forest.[3] Companies, organizations and individuals continue to fight to either tighten or loosen the regulations.

Currently, as shown in the table below, California forestry regulations are equal to and sometimes exceed the standards of the FSC.


Comparison of FSC and California Forestry Practices from A Comparison of California Forest Practice by Cristopher Dicus. [4]


This is a brief explanation of why there were differences in the two when comparing them side by side. Emphasis is put on the issues that were different.[4]

Licensing & Training California requires a licensed Registered Professional Forester to make all management plans as well as licensing for the loggers. This is stricter than the FSC because they only use the term “qualified”, or have adequate training or supervision.[5]

Sustained Yield This one is unique because they are almost equivalent if in California the land is greater than 50,000 acres, but if the landowners own less than 50,000 then the requirements don’t necessarily address as strict as FSC. So California gets .5 to FSC’s 1.

Site Preparation FSC and California both have requirements in regards to site preparation but California’s is more thorough.

Harvesting Practices California’s harvesting practices are more clear cut than the more broad and general FSC standards.[4]

Intermediate Treatments California regulations actually have standards for thinning treatments.

Air California regulations cover air quality issues while the FSC does not mention air quality at all.

Chemicals FSC has strict guidelines against the use of many chemicals, and has more intense guidelines than the states regulations which are through the Department of Food and Agriculture.[4]


It appears that when compared quantitatively side by side that California logging laws more stringent. But when the number one principle of the FSC standards is taken in consideration, compliance with laws then they would have to be applied, and thus better overall if the FSC standards were in California. But this would not be true if it was FSC certified in another place with less strict guidelines than in California.


  2. Nunamaker, C. R. "A brief review of timber management on private lands in California." Journal of Zhejiang Forestry College. Vol. 16 No. 4. 1999.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dicus, Christopher A COMPARISON OF CALIFORNIA FOREST PRACTICE. California Forest Products Commission. California Forest Products Commission. Web. <>.
  5. Gregersen, H. People and Trees. Washington: World Bank, 1989.

See Also[edit]