FSC-Watch

An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Green groups call for urgent reform of the FSC - certifiers 'eroding credibility'Tags: Worldwide, Certifier conflict of interest, All certifiers

On 30th October, more than 75 environmental organisations from 25 countries wrote a letter to the Executive Director of FSC, Heiko Liedeker, and the FSC's International Board, calling for urgent improvements to the FSC system. The groups include WWF International, Greenpeace International, Birdlife Internationl, Friends of the Earth UK, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense.

The groups identify in their letter that "the performance of the [FSC's accredited] certification bodies has played a critical role in [the] erosion of FSC's credibility because in too many cases certificates have been issued that raised significant opposition among FSC members". The groups go on to assert that there has been "too much room" for the certifiers to 'interpret' the FSC's rules; that the FSC Secretariat has been too lax in exercising controls or sanctions over certifiers that break the rules; and that there is an underlying problem because of the direct financial link between the supposedly independent certifers and the companies they are certifying.

The evidence presented on FSC-watch.org suggests that all of these concerns are very well founded.

The letter suggests a number of ways in which the FSC can be made more credible again, including that the accreditation and monitoring procedures for the certifiers should be made more transparent, and that proper sanctions should be instituted where breaches of the rules are found. The groups also ask FSC to find an alternative business model which would break the direct financial link between certifiers and their clients. A further problem addressed is that the FSC continues (after 13 years of existence) to be heavily reliant on external financial support.

FSC-Watch understands that a copy of the letter is not available for public use.

Comments

While the rest of the world is consuming vast amounts of resources to try and oppose certification (FSC and PEFC), the destruction of the worlds forests to agriculture and illegal logging are still taking place. Why not first concentrate on the criminals and then come and re-focus on those individual companies that you perceive to be non-compliant and help them in a constructive way to improve their practices. In this way we can all go forward. All you are doing now is taking your eye off the ball and when you wake up its too late. Get real. Get practical. Focus on the forests don't try to be a media celebrity!

In many ways you're absolutely right: we should spend much less time bothering with certification, and a lot more time trying to save forests. But the FSC exists, it's not working, and it's misleading the public into thinking that it IS working. The sooner the FSC starts doing what it claims to be doing, the sooner, hopefully, we can get on with the real job of saving forests.

By the way, what makes you think that 'illegal logging' is any more destructive than 'legal' logging?

Come up with a better system that is working and financed. Critizing is easy. It is good to be critical in order to improve the system but it needs to be constructive criticim! What are REALISTIC alternatives?

Simon, for the simple reason I have worked in various logging operations and have first hand experince of this. I have seen the differnce FSC is making on the ground. People are thinking differently now than they were 10 years ago. They are far more aware of the environment they work in, thanks to initiatives like the FSC.

Illegal logging is very different in that the loggers have no intention of returning anything. They are there to steal and leave, like a bank robber!
At least those companies that are certified have volunteered to be on the "radar" and can be monitored. Why not focus your efforts on companies that are still operating "under the radar" and governments that accept non-certified timber.

Your smearing campaigns are making good people negative, but there is no "fall back system". Maybe the FSC does have some faults, but they are human afterall. They can improve on this I am sure! Are you saying that all orgainisations like yourselves are perfect? Greenpeace certainly has a few black marks, but hey, they have also changed the way business is conducted nowdays. I am sure MacDonalds is checking where their chicken/soya is coming from.

Tell me what will happen if the FSC falls to pieces tomorrow? My perception is that there will be anarcy in the forests and alot of timber will be cut in a short time to seize this window of opportunity for profits.

FSC is still a new organization and have grown faster than they thought they would and to walk, you must first crawl and fall.

Be careful with your "wise" comments and come up with a better orgainization and myself and 100 000 people will support you tomorrow!

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE!

At 13 years old, and more than 80 million hectares under certification, FSC can hardly claim to still be a 'baby'.

Moreover, as I have pointed out elsewhere, the underlying problems with the FSC system have been carefully analysed and made known (to the FSC Board and Secretariat, as well as the wider public) for at least 4 years (see the Rainforest Foundation report 'Trading in Credibility').

It's not as if it requires rocket science to start getting these things right; as a start, the main improvement would be a simple change in the contractual arrangements such that the accredited certifiers stopped contracting directly with the companies that want to get certified. The current system has established an obvious and fatal conflict of interest in centre of the FSC mechanism. Instead, the certifiers should be required to compete for assessment contracts on the basis of the RIGOUR of their assessment, rather than the laxness of it. These contracts should be awarded by the FSC Sectretariat.

But in the 4 or so years that these problems - and their likely remedies - have been known by the 'powers that be' in FSC, NOTHING has been done about them. In fact, things have probably got worse, as certifiers have learned that they can get away with certifying just about anything, regardless of egregious non-compliances with the P&C.
I am sure you will agree that this is not a sustainable way to carry on, and will only lead to the eventual total collapse of the FSC's credibility.

So, in answer to your question, 'what would happen if the FSC collapsed?', I would say 'if nothing happens urgently to improve the performance of the FSC, we will soon find out'.

Concerning illegal logging, you might be interested to see the CIFOR report, 'Justice in the Forest', which presents quite a different and important perspective on 'illegal logging'. It is, I believe, available from CIFOR's website.

13 years is still a teenager by human standards.

But old enough to be entrusted with 80 million hectares of the world's forests?

Simon, you seem well informed on certain issues pertaining to the FSC but since when was the FSC involved in the actual management of forests? The management is still up to the companies, communities and governments.

Don't twist the facts as part of your smearing campaign.

Having been involved in the development of forest certfication systems since 1986 (yes, that's 1986, long before the FSC was even conceived), and having been a 'Founder Member' of FSC, I am very well aware that FSC does not directly manage forests.

But it claims to be an arbiter of whether those forests are 'well managed' or not. If you don't think that FSC has any bearing at all on forest management standards, then what exactly do you think it DOES do??

Perhaps you are one of those people that think that FSC's prime (and perhaps only) purpose is to help in the marketing of wood (regardless of whether or not it comes from 'acceptable' sources), and in so doing to help to create lucrative business opportunities for 'certification' companies?

Simon, marketing is a further from my mind than you would ever think. I am in the field of Environmental Management, where we recognise that humans are a mammal species aswell (Zoology 101). It is therefore important to manage the enviro, social and economic aspects of the world we live in. Now the FSC system has these components built into it by the founders (people like you and the other pioneers)and it seems to be a very good system. No system is perfect, (as I stated earlier)

Apparently there are now 16 or so certification companies. How many of these companies are in this for the profit? Of those big companies in it for the profit, how much could a tarnished reputation affect their overall business ventures, thinking specifically about financial auditing firms??

If you were a founder member, why did you outsource the certification and not keep it in house? Why are you pushing for the FSC to become self funded therefore unnecessarily putting financial pressures onto a good system? The fact that some of the FSC's departments are now business units means that there was severe pressure from some sectors within the eNGO community. Were WWF, GP, FOE unable to fund this?

The decision to accredit the first 3 certification companies must have been taken by the pioneers. Are you now regretting this decison and trying to back paddle? It seems as though the stream is flowing faster than you can paddle!


As I recall it, the decision about the underlying structure of the FSC was 'taken' at the Founding Assembly in Toronto in 1993, but had almost certainly been taken beforehand by a closed group consisting of some of the key 'interested parties'. At the time, the 'drivers' of the development of the FSC included WWF, SGS, and one or two individuals and members of the private sector.

I don't recall that it was ever put to any kind of a vote of the members that FSC's accredited certifiers would contract directly with the companies that they are supposedly 'independently' certifying. If it had been put to a vote, it's perfectly possible that the members would have approved it anyway, but with the benefit of hindsight, the Founding Members (there were 100+ or so, if I recall correctly) should have seen the obvious dangers. But it might have been that the actual operating principles were not formalised until some time later.

But the point is that the system that we've ended up with has a major flaw in it, and we should try and change it. The FSC has changed a number of its rules and policies over the years (mostly for the worse, it seems) and there seems no a priori reason why it should not really now change its structure and break the direct economic link between the certifiers and their 'client' forestry companies.

By the way, I don't think anyone is particularly criticising the underying 'social, economic and environmental principles' of the FSC; it's the fact that they are not being upheld that is the problem.

Ok Simon, so we've bashed around old arguments!
What, in your opinion, is the underlying flaw and how do you propose the FSC fixes it? What are the implications if it cannot be fixed? (In your opinion of course)

One of the major underlying flaws, in my opinion, is that companies wanting to get certified contract directly with the certification bodies, and also pay them directly. The certifiers thus have a vested interest in awarding certificates, because this guarantees future monitoring fees, re-assessments fees etc. (In some cases, the certifiers are also providing forest management consultancy to the companies they are then supposedly independently certifying through 'quasi-autonomous' subsidiaries - such as the Soil Association's EcoSylva company, which actually shares the same office as the certifier WoodMark).

As is described in other places on this site, apart from setting up a conflict of interest at the heart of the FSC system, it has also set in motion a 'race to the bottom' of certification standards: the certifiers are effectively competing with each other to be the least rigorous because that's the way they know they will guarantee new business. At least one of the certifiers has acknowledged to me that this is clearly going on. And the problem is that, for the very largest of the certified operations (now running into millions of hectares) the competition amongst the certifiers (ie, the 'race to the bottom') is likely to be most intense, because the bigger operations are the most lucrative to certify.

The FSC Secretariat should be controlling the certifiers and stopping them from cutting corners and awarding certificates to undeserving companies, but they have completely failed to do so. This is, I believe, largely because the FSC is completely dominated by the 'Big 4' certifiers (see posting on this site 'What is the FSC certifying'), some of whom, I have been reliably informed by members of the FSC Board, simply threaten to leave the FSC if the FSC does anything to 'discipline' them. Also, as I understand it, the general legal contract that exists between the FSC and the certifiers allows the certifiers to sue the FSC if it does anything that 'harms their economic interest' (such as, perhaps, demanding that the certifiers withdraw bad certificates). So, in other words, the certifiers have a complete stranglehold on the FSC.

One possible solution to this is suggested in the posting on this site, 'Reforming the FSC by competitive tendering'. The basic idea is that companies wishing to get certified would not contract directly with the certification body, but with the FSC itself. The FSC Secretariat would then invite the accredited certifiers to tender for the contract to carry out the certification assessment. Contracts would be awarded by the Secretariat on the basis of the high quality of assessment procedures to be used. Thus, there would have to be a 'race to the top' of certification standards, rather than the current 'race to the bottom'. I'm sure there are other possible solutions, and you will see from elsewhere on this site that many environmental organisations have asked that Secretariat urgently explores these.

If something like this doesn't happen, and if the certifiers continue to award certificates to companies that are in major non-compliance with the Principles and Criteria, then the obvious and certain consequence is that the FSC's credibility will continue to decline. (Presumably, there is only so much egregious 'greenwashing' of bad forestry companies that organisations such as Greenpeace would want to be associated with.) I would also not be surprised if someone eventually takes legal action against the FSC for breaches of consumer legislation which, in Europe, for example, protects the public against misleading claims on labels or products.

Then it really would be 'game over' for the FSC.

Simon, you have based your assumptions on what one certifier has told you, but you have not answered my questions in posting 16 Nov 13:53 CET regarding the number of certifiers and how many of them are non-profit?

I find it bizarre to think that there are non-profit certifiers out there who want to issue 'bogus" certificates. It makes no sense.

Similarly, if I was the owner of a profit based certifing company, and the issuing of a "bad certificate" was a threat to my company's future, then why do it? It would be, in economic terms, a high risk to the business.

Simon, you are so busy smearing FSC that you are probably not even aware that Greenpeace currently holds the Chair of the FSC? Did you? I take this from your comment above "(Presumably, there is only so much egregious 'greenwashing' of bad forestry companies that organisations such as Greenpeace would want to be associated with.)".

Tell me what is going to happen to the worlds forests if its game over for the FSC. Have you thought what destruction will ensue?
This will unravel all the good management practices that have been installed over the past few years and in my opinion, NO certification will ever work. Its now or never for certification (FSC, PEFC and others)

Its interesting times we live in Simon, interesting!

You can get the information you want from the FSC itself, which produces a list of the accredited certifiers. I'll leave it to you to work out which of them are technically 'not for profit' organisations (I think it might actually only be one of them, albeit the biggest) - but I'm not really sure that this makes much difference to how they actually perform. None of them are doing it for love.

And, yes, it does seem bizarre that the 'not for profits', as well as the 'for profits' are issuing 'bogus' certificates ('seriously flawed' might be a more accurate description). But there seems to have been a distinct pattern of the major 'not for profit' certifier issuing certificates to forestry operations that were demonstrably non-compliant with the Principles and Criteria at the time of assessment, evidently on the basis of 'hoped for improvements' in the future. When these improvements fail to transpire, sometimes years down the line, the certificate has to be withdrawn or quietly 'suspended'.

This has happened repeatedly, but one of the problems with the FSC's total lack of transparency on this is that it is very difficult for anyone to know just how extensve these seriously flawed certificates really are. Known examples include Perhutani in Indonesia, Aracruz in Brazil and Forest Industry Organisation in Thailand.

But, hey, they made a buck or two whilst they lasted...

And what is your point exactly about Greenpeace chairing the FSC? They have been on the FSC Board for a number of years.

You can draw your own conclusions about what would happen if the FSC collapsed. It depends on how effective you think the FSC is being. If you look at the information in the posting 'What is the FSC certifying?', it appears that the vast majority of FSC's certified area is in countries where forestry is already relatively well regulated in law, and where some form of 'forest management' is pretty well established.

Can you show me any empirical evidence that the FSC has actually made much positive difference on the ground, or that it has forced any changes that were not happening anyway or are required in the laws of the respective countries?

Dear IM pro certification,

I wonder why you can't sign with your real name?

Anyhow, you wrote:
"Tell me what is going to happen to the worlds forests if its game over for the FSC. Have you thought what destruction will ensue?
This will unravel all the good management practices that have been installed over the past few years and in my opinion, NO certification will ever work. Its now or never for certification (FSC, PEFC and others)"

Why do you talk about game over for FSC? My understanding is, that this website just intends to improve FSC. One way to improve it would be that FSC would work along its principles, and promises to consumers, which would mean amongst other things, to remove undeserved certificates. I can't see how this would "unravel all the good management practices that have been installed over the past few years." It would rather enhance FSC's reputation.
I rather fear that this might become unravelled, if certificates go to forest companies that do not deserve certification, because others might follow their example.
I do not understand your thinking: You just can't tell us, that something has not to be critizised, because it is better compared to others, if there are clearly still flaws in the system, that need to be corrected and improved, or do you? Otherwise please tell the consumer: FSC is the least bad choice you can make, but don't expect that it is good and delivers what it promises.
Kind regards
Christine

Christine

It is not such an issue whether I put my name there or not. The reason that I dont it is because these are my views through the research I have done and not necessarily of the sponsors. Are you ok with this?

It was Simon who suggested that it would be game over for the FSC.
The way to improve the FSC would be to get involved and not stand on the sidelines shouting "foul" when there are very good and legitimate certificates out there

Simon, the mere fact that the EU and USA require FSC certified material has caused many companies to re-look at their current management system and revise it to be inline with the requirements of the FSC standard. This overhaul has brought in the necessary changes that were not necessarily there in the past.

COmpanies now attend to social issues more now than they ever did, and can still do more. Stakeholder consultation was a phrase that was never used in forestry, now it common practice. Companies are now also realising the benefits of this.

The compilation of TRe lists and monitoring were never standard practice, and these were brought about by the FSC standard. The benefits of doing this have also become apparent.

We can all asume alot from our first world mindset, but it is in the developing world where many of the seeds to good management have been planted by the introduction of the FSC.

My fear is that should it be "game over" then many of these aspects will fall away, and the staff will revert back to managing for economic benefits only and not the social and environmental ones aswell.

I am happy for there to be a debate about raising standards within FSC and among FSC accredited certification bodies. However factually incorrect assertions made through this forum, will in the long term, only serve to undermine the credibility of those making them.

Simon's posting of 17th November suggests that there are consultancy services being provided by EcoSylva within the Soil Association Woodmark programme. This is simply wrong. EcoSylva is dedicated to delivery of certifiaction assessments and does not provide consultancy to assist companies to comply with FSC requirements.

Kevin Jones, Woodmark Manager.

Dear Kevin

Can you please point me to where, as you claim, I stated that 'there are consultancy services being provided by EcoSylva *within* the Soil Association Woodmark programme'?

What I actually said was:

"In some cases, the certifiers are also providing forest management consultancy to the companies they are then supposedly independently certifying through 'quasi-autonomous' subsidiaries - such as the Soil Association's EcoSylva company, which actually shares the same office as the certifier WoodMark."

(Check it for yourself above.)

Are you saying that this is factually inaccurate? Are you denying that EcoSylva shares the same offices as WoodMark? Are you saying that EcoSylva has never provided consultancy to a forestry operation that has subsequently been certified or is currently in the process of being certified?

Simon

Dear Im Pro Certification

When we opened this site, we were criticised for having negelected to put on the details of who was behind it. The point was made that it could just be a 'front' for industry interests that simply wanted to destroy the FSC. But there is also the case that, given that a nunber of global organisations have staked their reputation on the FSC (mistakenly, it seems) and that there are many people within these organisations that are very unhappy with this situation but afraid to speak out, we feel it is appropriate that contributors can also remain annonymous if they wish.

I am not sure what you are referring to when you talk of the 'USA and EU requiring FSC certified materials'. As far as I am aware, there is no legal requirement for FSC-certified materials in either the EU or the USA - the system is and remains one that is entirely voluntary. Perhaps you can point us to the legislation you seem to be referring to?

If the FSC has helped to raise social standards, all well and good. But, as I noted elsewhere, the evidence for this seems to be very thin on the ground. Again, I would ask you to point me to the evidence (your 'research', perhaps?) that shows this. What I would hope is that, with this website, we can go beyond the FSC's oft-cited 'received wisdom' and Public Relations outpourings, and keep asking for *empirical* evidence of the putative benefits that the FSC has brought.

You are right that we need to go beyond the 'first world mindset'. In my 'day job', I am entirely devoted to working with organisations and individuals concerned with forest protection in the tropics. What I hear constantantly from genuine NGOs and grass roots organisations in these countries is that FSC is causing them serious problems, is failing to deliver credible certification, and is failing especially to uphold the social aspects of the Principles and Criteria. You will see on this website examples of where companies have been certified depsite being in gross violation of indigenous rights, for example. I would be interested to learn from you of any examples of where, say, the FSC's requirement that certified companies uphold International Labour Organisation concention 169 (concerning respect for indigenous peoples rights) have been rigorously upheld in a tropical country.

You will no doubt respond to this, "well, everything can't be perfect overnight, but FSC is making things better incrementally". Perhaps so, and perhaps this incremental change is important. But the point is, does this 'incremental change' actually REDUCE the chances that much-needed fundamental reform of forestry (and related) laws takes place? This is what Indonesian NGOs, for example have been arguing. They say that certification legitimises a forest 'management' (actually 'exploitation') system that is fundamentally illegimate, not the least because logging concessions have effectively resulted in the 'theft' of vast areas of forest from the country's indigenous people.

And what about the FSC's on-product 'claim' that, in effect the production conditions of the labelled material are compliant with the FSC's P&C (and associated rules and policies)? Is this true or isn't it? If it's only 'incrementally true', then the public should be told this.

The evidence shown on this website is that there are sufficient 'seriously flawed' certificates out there for the consumer not to be able to be sure any more.

Simon



The inherent problem, which could have been resolved by you in the beginning Simon, is that FSC is a performance standard, but where is the level of compliance acceptable?

On differing levels of education and with different cultures and countries, what is the FSC standard?More consulting work should be allowed so that companies can comply to this standard. Where we in the first world (north) think something is unacceptable, the third world "south" may think it is fine. Clearer BEST OPERATIN PRACTICES, possibly endorsed by the FAO could provide prescriptive guidelines for companies to apply.Without the consulting angle it becomes difficult to reach the high standard that the first world sets!

Dear Im Pro Certification

Had I been in the 'inner circle' right at the beginning, along with the likes of Chris Elliott, Alan Knight and Tim Synnott, perhaps I would have been able to do something about this - or perhaps not. I think the truth was that so many people were carried away with the euphoria of seeing the FSC come into being that they weren't really thinking things through clearly enough, and an 'inner circle' had already established a structure which was more or less presented as a fait accompli.

I don't really understand what you mean about 'different cultures and countries', but to my mind one of the big failings (along with not tackling the obvious conflict of interest held by the certification bodies) is that certificates continue to be allowed where there is no locally adapted national or regional standard. The membership have passed Motions about this at the last two FSC General Assemblies, but STILL nothing has happened. Someone has rightly observed that most of the seriously problematic certificates occur where the certification bodies use their own 'generic standards' for the certification assessments, and local stakeholders are effectively completely by-passed (though there are certainly also problems even where there ARE local standards).

This practice should be completely outlawed for once and for all - but as with so much else that's wrong in the FSC, it isn't happening, presumably because a/ the certification bodies wouldn't want their activities (and thus potential profits) limited in this way and b/ Heiko evidently continues to prefer quantity over quality.

The consequence of this is that there are lots of certificates all over the world, but a number of them are dragging FSC's credibility into the dirt.

I'm also not saying that forest management operations don't need consulting services: of course they sometimes do, but my point is that there should be a clear separation of interest between the provision of such services and supposed 'independent' certification of the resulting forest management activities. At the moment, some of the FSC's certifiers are doing both.

And yes, ideally, some kind of forest management standards should be enshrined in international agreements. The ITTO had the chance to do this back in 1989 when Friends of the Earth introduced a project proposal to establish a global certification scheme, which would have required the establishment of agreed standards of forest management. But it was all too difficult for some of the tropical timber producing and consuming countries; the proposal got gutted and turned into something completely different, and the global scheme never got started.

Simon


The reason for not having local standards is that the crtieria used to qualify the local NI are ridiculous and I dont know who in their right mind put those requirements down.

In response to your question "cultures and countries" I mean that will the standard of logging be the same in Sweden, Africa and Asia? The answer is definately not. However we always judge these operations from a first world perspective and maybe conditions in those countries are extremely different, yet the "standard" is based on European or American standards where there is a high level of education and support, whereas the 3rd world does not have this, so it is not an even playing field.

We, the concerned, the educated, must either install those practices in 3rd world countries or understand that it will not be up to the high standard of more developed countries. In the same way, the standard of living in Switzerland is not the same as in Poland, albeit both are in Europe.

I think most people that support the FSC believe that the whole concept of national or locally adapted stanadrds is pretty central to the way FSC works - for some of the very reasons that you yourself identify.

Can I suggest that, if you feel that this element of FSC is "ridiculous", then perhaps you would like to submit a considered piece to FSC-Watch explaining why you think this is so, and what you would propose to do about it?

Simon

Simon

I am in the final stages of writing up my research and should have this completed in May. Until then I will write only from the heart!

Signing off for vacation. See you next year Simon. Merry thinking!

Simon

I am in the final stages of writing up my research and should have this completed in May. Until then I will write only from the heart!

Signing off for vacation. See you next year Simon. Merry thinking!

Simon

I am in the final stages of writing up my research and should have this completed in May. Until then I will write only from the heart!

Signing off for vacation. See you next year Simon. Merry thinking!

Oh, this is a nice debate.

You surely all know that sometimes things have to have solid headers to gain the public's attention. And, FSC Watch has been doing exactly that for a while, and in addition provided plenty of food for thought within FSC, certifiers, supporters and criticasters. A good debate should result in widely supported AGM resolutions, that are also then subsequently implemented.

A comment was made somewhere above: "I am sure MacDonalds is checking where their chicken/soya is coming from", which made me smile because I too am sure they are checking it, but I seriously doubt they really know what the impact is, let alone that MacNuggets originate from well managed chicken farms where the chickens are fed sustainable soy. Get real! A comment like this - from a certifier - infuriates the cynical. By nature, I'm an optimist but my optimism in the good intentions of those involved in trade, investment and certification is often - too often - violated as well.

FSC Watch fights for trust, absolute trust. I support that. It is fundamental to the credibility of FSC and similar schemes. It's not fair to call that struggle a smear campaign. Judging from all of the above, I don't see FSC Watch call to dissolve FSC (do you?), but instead I see pressure building from the outside, based on arguments and cases.

As for (to be) certified companies hiring certiers directly. Well, MTCC has a system by which its member companies pay the certification fees to MTCC who then hires a selected certifier. In theory it is more objective. I don't see why FSC couldn't do it also.

IM Pro: how should I read your comments on Asia not having the same standards as the first world? Does this translate into IM Pro accepting a lower level of performance where logging in primary rainforests is taking place as compared to logging in Swedish pulpwood plantations? Why certify practises that do not meet a global standard, esp. when the timber is bought by companies that also buy timber from companies who meet the allegedly highest standard? Is that because you think that logging companies in the tropics are pityful and cannot afford a certifier? Go figure, they log plenty to channel millions into forest conversion for plantation development, the construction of hotels, casinos, shopping malls and other useful basic human needs. Why give these guys a break, and why allow unfair global competition by giving more leeway to the guys bulldozing rainforests because they haven't had the chance to do so where Europeans had?

Also in Malaysia: one could argue it was too late, but PITC did get de-certified for illegal logging (yeah! In an FSC forest!). But the MTCC and Keurhout certifications remained untouched, which in my view is the ultimate proof of these systems being truly faulty and misleading to consumers. Logging in the area is ongoing, and under present circumstances free for all as MTCC nor the State Government has taken action to withdraw the certification or the logging permit. But, at least there is no more illegal FSC timber available on the market place...

The one thing that I do not support is seeing FSC Watch becoming personal. This debate, I feel, is about an institution and the decision making structures behind it. It's not about the individuals who will come and go. Perhaps that could be respected.



Eric

Perhaps you should read my very first comment. I am an individual who is not worried about the FSC, PEFC, MTCC, World Bank or any of the institutions you wish to mention. I am sincerely concerned about the Worlds Forests!

Illegal logging, legal logging with bad environmental and social practices are ripping the heart out of our forest systems. However I have also seen where companies have adopted a certification scheme and they ALL believe in it, how their practices have changed.

Uncertified timber is still being traded, whether legal or illegal (especially in the East). Pressure needs to be exerted on companies and governments (world wide) which continue with these bad practices. What has happened now is that there are individuals out there (you see I'm not getting personal)who find it easier to sit behind the computer and write rubish. Get out there, do something. Get real, get practical.

FSC Watch: Liedeker and Board - lost for an answer?
It is now six weeks since some 75 leading environmental organisations worldwide wrote to the Exe...

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