An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Accredited certifier suspendedTags: Chile, Accreditation controls, IMO

For only the second time in its 13-year history, the FSC has suspended the accreditation of one of its certifiers.

However, as with most of FSC's dealings with the certifiers, the reasons for the suspension of the Swiss based Institut für Marktökologie (IMO), on 22nd September, are not entirely clear. All that the FSC Secretariat has said is that the decision was taken against IMO "for performing new evaluations and issuing new FSC forest management certificates in Chile" - and even this information was buried in an unassuming document on FSC's website.

The news will no doubt be welcomed by campaigners concerned about FSC's certification of large monoculture industrial tree crops, as it means that 440,000 hectares of mostly eucalyptus plantations in Chile (as well as a number of certifcates in other countries) will also have IMO's FSC certificates suspended.

It is encouraging that FSC has shown that it is able to sanction one of the certifiers. However, FSC-Watch believes that the reasons for this decision should be made more clear by the Secretariat. Every month, FSC members and the public are treated to an account of how and why the total area under FSC certification has grown inexorably. We believe we are also entitled to know how and why that area shrinks. FSC-Watch also invites the Secretarat to explain exactly what it is that the relatively small IMO has done to deserve its suspension that any of the other larger certifiers have not also been guilty of?


Dear Chris,

your statement about IMOs partially suspension contains unfortunately some errors.

The area certified by IMO in Chile is only 27.000 ha, all the rest of the total of 440.000 is certified by other CBs. As you mentioned, IMO is relatively small.

But more important, the consequences of the suspension are NOT, that any certified company will loose certification! The restriction to issue NEW certificates includes that all EXISTING certificates maintain valid.

We are also a bit astonished about your conclusions. The decision of FSC to suspend our accreditation seems to be a proof of FSC doing it´s job, but this is not necessarily the truth. As you also mentioned, the decision as such is not explained to the public. And the explanation IMO got is not much more detailed, so IMO appealed against this decision.

Until this conflict is solved you can not say, if it was IMO or FSC who did a bad job.

Especially when we are talking about plantation management: You certainly remember that it was IMO who submitted to the GA the motion to improve FSC standards for plantation management.
So do you really think this suspension can help to improve plantations management?

I would appreciate if you could be a bit more carefully with conclusions if you do not know all details.

Best regards

Wolfram (IMO-Auditor)


Sorry that it has taken so long to respond to this - it somehow escaped my attention.

I am a bit confused by your claim to be "astonished about our conclusions". Re-reading the posting, I don't think we really came to any 'conclusions' other than that the reasons why IMO has been suspended were obsure, and that the FSC Secretariat should provide greater clarification on this. Your response seems to indicate that you are very much in agreement with this.

Have you yet had any further clarification from the Secretariat that you might like to share with FSC-Watch's readership?

All the best


Dear Simon,

thanks for this reply.

You are right, I agree to parts of your conclusion. But you also said, that this suspension would be welcomed because it would end controversiol certification of plantations. This seems to be a bit ironcícally to me because some people in Chile claim IMO would be much to strict concerning ecological criteria. And as result of this suspension we are having problems to continue this work.

Anyway, there are no news about the FSC decision as such, beside the fact, that we put something on our homepage now. If you are interested in the details you can get more information here:


We tried to give an overview about the conflict, as neutral as possible for us. So everybody is invited to draw his own conclusions.

best regards


Dear Chris,

I have scrutinized the evedence of the conflict and do not doubt IMO is rights. FSC has a diferent approach in relation to small and big CB. IMO was CB who issued second certificate in Russia in 2001 and could be leader of FSC certification in Russia. After this certification they was discreditated by NGOs and could not extend the business in the region. NGO who organized the scandal was recomend to IMO potential clients other big CB, which had business with the NGO. As a result, IMO was pressed out from Russian market. Now this big CB has big business in the region. These certified companies has many more gaps concerning FSC requirements than IMO in that time. It can see from public reports, nevertheless FSC praises the region projects. I do not know, who is competitor of IMO in Chile, but the CB will take new clients soon. The similar method is used in relation to other small CB too. This is policy.

Hang in there,

Alexander, CU-Auditor

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