An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Bureau Veritas accreditation suspended in CameroonTags: Cameroon, Certifier conflict of interest, Eurocertifor, Bureau Veritas

FSC-Watch has previously reported on the highly controversial certification of Wijma, a company logging in the rainforests of Cameroon which the independent observer of forests in that country has repeatedly found to be involved in illegalities.

The certification has now led to the suspension of Wijma's certifer, Bureau Veritas (formerly Eurocertifor). We have been asked to post the following article, which is submitted by Danielle van Oijen, Forest Campaigner, Milieudefensie / Friends of The Earth Netherlands.

From FSC-Watch's perspective, this case raises some interesting questions about how FSC handles controversial certificates issued by 'under-performing' certifiers. It seems highly anomalous that Bureau Veritas's performance in the case of Wijma is judged bad enough to suspend the certifier - but the certificate itself nevertheless remains valid. There is also the question of how realistic it is to expect a certifier that is 'suspended' to 'maintain' a certificate.

FSC-Watch invites the Accreditation Services of FSC to explain these apparent anomalies, as well as to provide FSC-Watch with the relevant FSC statutes which set out the conditions under which 'suspensions' of certifiers take place.

1st of February FSC Accreditation Services announced that the FSC accredited Certification Body, Bureau Veritas Certification (formerly known as Eurocertifor) has been suspended in Cameroon for not adequately demonstrating compliance with major corrective action requests.

As of 12th February 2007, Bureau Veritas Certification is not allowed to perform new evaluations or issue new FSC certificates in Cameroon. This decision was taken after an ASI Surveillance Forest Management Audit of Bureau Veritas Certification in June 2006. During this audit 10 minor and 5 major Corrective Action Requests were issued. The performance of the certification body was considered poor. In the public summary report we can read that "ASI audit team considers that at time of the FSC surveillance audit, the certification body had not adequately evaluated compliance of the certificate holder and had not requested appropriate corrective actions".

Several NGOs had filed a formal complaint on the performance of Bureau Vertitas Certification during the certification process of one of the concessions hold by Wijma (a Dutch timber company). Some of the complaints were that they only published a full public summary report in one of the FSC languages nearly a year after the certifcation decision. Until that time NGOs did not get any relevant feedback from Bureau Veritas Certification on their comments. Furthermore NGOs in Cameroon questioned the capacity of the certifier to carry out a dialogue devoid of aggressiveness and respecting the legitimate issues raised by civil society. In November 2006 Bureau Veritas Certification tried to improve communication and met with several NGO stakeholders.

Bureau Veritas Certification is the certification body in at least two other certification procedures in Cameroon managed by Wijma and Reef respectively. Those companies will have to be transfered to another certifier. As for the existing Wijma certificate, and as far as I know, Bureau Veritas Certification can maintain it. In March 2007 the next audit of the concession by FSC ASI will take place. Wijma has been improving considerably and in a structural way and I feel the company is very much committed to keep improving and move forward with FSC certification. But there are still some issues to be investigated, such as poaching and illegal logging by third parties and non-timber forest products before we can state without doubts that Wijma is operating in full compliance with the FSC standard.

With this decision, FSC gives a very strong signal, which is beneficial for the credibility of the FSC scheme in general and for the future of FSC certification in Cameroon. Many more companies are working towards FSC certification in Cameroon. Therefore it is very important to set a good standard in the Wijma certification, the first FSC certificate in Cameroon. I want to see high quality FSC certifications in Cameroon, free from doubts or controversies and real impacts on the ground for the forests and the people depending on them for their livelihoods. Encouraging is that FSC - by following up closely and radical on this certificate - seems to feel the same!

danielle.van.oijen (at) milieudefensie.nl


Can you tell us something about the FSC certificate in Congo? Has anybody ever taken time to look at what is happening there? Where and how does one find information about this certificate? NOWHERE. Why do we want to turn sustainable development into a political arena?
I am an independent observer and forest technician, and my opinion is that neither of the parties (ASI inclusive) knows where they are going. African companies that have made a complete change (e.g. Wijma) are being condemned ,instead of being encouraged, for the changes they have made. Looking at Forestry in Cameroon, that company has made a very big step (in the field).
Do we also look at what is happening in South America where certificates are flooding the whole place? Is that your idea of sustainable developement?
I guess encouraging good willers, makes more progress. Its strange when journalists and lawyers talk about forestry and write whatever they think, instead of verifying with the foresters themselves.
Making the certification world into a political arena, is very risky for FSC itself. FSC should go to the field and verify for themselves, before accepting most information from NGOs who want to defend thier financing by saying things they do not master, knowing it won't be verified. Lets be more objective and not subjective.

If you care to look properly on this site, you will see that we have information here about the certification in the Congo (CIB) that you ask about. One of the pieces of information you can get through this site is a report that Greenpeace prepared following a field visit, which involved a very well qualified team, including a professional forester.

FSC does sometimes go into the field to 'verify for themselves' what NGOs are saying - and as we have reported several times recently on this site, what this tends to confirm is that the NGOs are right, and that bad certificates have been issued (in Africa and elsewhere).

Just as you say about 'journalists and lawyers', you perhaps should a/ look more carefully for the information which you claim does not exist and b/ having obtained the information, check that you have actually got your facts right.

Could you give me the definition of a 'professional forester'? Maybe you are reffering to a diploma holder. Its a pity that a European will come to Africa for the first time, to judge or evaluate situations. What happens to "reality aspects"? These are domains that are supposed to be "lived/experienced" and not "heard".

Offcourse, any info about CIB will come from Greenpeace. who else could it be? Anybody who understands and follows up just a bit, knows what is happening. I won't be surprised if you yourself don't even know what actually is going on. Please lets not 'politicise' these things.

Most information I have, comes from articles written by lawyers and journalists who talk about forestry laws which they do not even know. Its really a pity that you try to defend others. I understand that everyone will like to protect thier interests. But thats not the goal of sustainable development. The interest should be collective and not individual.
Besides all these, could you also look at the background of FSC personnel incharge of African and South american aspects? How far is thier knowledge about the Tropical society and forestry in the tropics???????
I will keep verifying my infos as well.

Do you have first-hand experience yourself of the CIB concession?

And what is it that you claim is 'going-on' that you believe no-one else knows about?

I do not have any first hand experience nor do i know what is 'going on'.
Once again, its not a debate. Its a simple opinion (which seems to make you pannick anyway.). its up to you to find out if you want.


I have been there at the conssesion we are talking about and in my point of view, the 5 major CARs that are issued are fully correct!

While being there I happened to be at a meeting of Cameronian employees where they asked for some quite reasonable changes in planning and organization. The reply of the management was that the production was too low and they would kick workers out when the production would not get higher. In my point of view this is threatening of workers, which is not allowed within FSC standards.

Also, I didn't see any skid trail planning, management drove with more than 80km/hour through local villages where livestock and children walked on the road, there were no first aid kits available on logging sites and not in the logging camp, a lot of workers were kept on short term contracts and fired and re-hired every year,
In general I have met a rather negative atmosphere under the (european) management. They didn't consider ecological values as important within forest management, even bullied and insulted me for being interested in ecology, workers conditions and local people.

Check this out how FSC is handling things with the certification body: http://www.accreditation-services.com/res/PublicSummaries/070226informationnotebvasi_final_.pdf

In my point of view the penalty is not very serious. The consession is still certified, this means that in spite of problems the logged wood is still sold as " wood from well managed forests". Strange, while one of the complaints of FSC to BVQI is about how conservation values are protected....

hello Wouter,

When did you visit the concession and who did you meet in the management team? How do you consider "being in the concession" without the knowledge of the concession holder? Do you think that is very professional? Besides, do you know that it is illegal to get into a concession without the knowledge of the holder? What do you know about forestry laws in Cameroon?
How do you compare european plantations to african forests? how do you compare european forestry with tropical forestry? That is a good example of the fact that you do not master the african context. Offcourse the african context does not mean that things should not be done right.
Mind you, FSC accredits PC&I adapted by certifiers, to countries that do not have one and this is normally done relative to the country context in question. From your posting, I can depict that you do not master the PC&I in question.
Furthermore, if you had met the concession holder, you would have seen the skidding trail plans. Do you expect to find it pasted on trees? there are fixed procedures for all these and its not in the villages that you will find these. Why do you avoid meeting the management team? Are you scared of something?
Please note that its not all vehicules that you find in the villages that belong to the company. the company has put up road signs, speed brakes, sensitized and so on and I don't think its still the same company people who will drive at high speed.
Please be objective. Have you ever mentioned what the company does that is good? Why do you give the impression that the company does nothing good? is that all you found out in your so called visit? Can you compare what you found, to all the requirements of sustainable developement and see the percentage?
Why do you think that local professional NGOs are satisfied with the company and some foreign NGOs or stakeholders are not? Its because you guys do not actually "feel" or master the environment and the context in general. Its very important.
Please be objective and realistic. Cameroonians also have a feeling for thier forests and are doing thier best to improve. There are lots of very competent forest experts in Cameroon. please do not pertubate this path by putting in false and clumpsy impressions. We are on the right track and whatever you have to say, just let us manage our Cameroonian forests in peace.
Thank you

Dear Robert,

I was actually working for the company in question in 2004 and was invited by them to make an evaluation. I did meet the whole management team and been checking out borders of the consession and walked around the whole lot. I also had lots of interviews with workers and have been reading all possible documents in the office. Further I am a FSC FM and CoC auditor, so I do know something about FSC P&C

The Cameroonian forester there was in my opinion the best and most sensible and competent forester in place over there. The European foresters I spoke with were not so sensible towards ecological values and a lot rougher.
Skid trail planning was not done. I found anyway too many non compliances in the actual exploitation. Better coordination and planning would have increased the quality of the exploitation a lot. I don't care about circumstances and the fact that effort has been made to improve the management! FSC is as far as I know a PERFORMANCE BASED CERTIFICATION SCHEME. It is not, as many ISO certification schemes like ISO 14001, based on improvement.

I believe that is the mistake the BVQI team has made in Cameroon. BVQI does carry out a lot of ISO type audits. I can imagine that their approach is more or less inspired or at least influenced by "the ISO way of working".

I do not think the logging company does nothing good at all. They do have a management plan, which was good in my point of view and they for instance did collect waste oils very thoroughly. Another very strong point I found was that they had a good training program for the loggers. Further they have a Cameronian manager for the employees, which is a very positive thing too. Improvement is being made for sure, but that does not mean automatically that FSC criteria were full-filled...

I just think it wasn't ready yet for FSC certification and that what this discussion is about I guess (?)
Ecological impact assesment was not very good for instance.
This I see in situations in Europe very often as well, that has nothing to do with the location.
Workers rights were in my point of view not taken good care of. I did not see any first aid kits at work.
That is not the right track in my point of view. The same points I found were also noted by the FSC auditors in the year 2006! When they found the same points after 2 years, it says me that the company should improve harder. It should not take more than 2 years to buy a few first aid kits for instance... Not to speak about ecological, social impact assesments and the skid trail planning..

This was an objective observation. Fact that FSC ASI found 5 major non-compliances just underwrites my observation.
Furthermore I do have a problem with the way FSC is handling this case. In my point of view a more serious penalty should be given to the CB and the FM certificate should be suspended untill the management is complying. Sometimes I do get the feeling that expansion of the FSC certified surface is getting into conflict with the quality. Fast growth is often not the most sustainable.

Of course there are more cases like this in other parts of the world. I just happened to be there in the consession this article is about and consider it a good thing to share my first hand experiences with you.

I bet it will not do my career much good ;) but that is not the most important thing in life.

Thank you Wouter,

I wonder if there has ever been a Wouter worker or Auditor in the company. I still have to verify that.But just for your information, the ingenieur you mentioned, was fired from the company because he was far from being competent in forest management. So if thats what you call a good forester and appreciate him so much, then I can see why you do not have a better view of things. Birds of the same feather flock together.
I am very sorry to say that, 2004 till present makes 2 good years of continous pressure on the company. A forest management team was put in place in May 2006 (which triggered the firing of your beloved "forester" because his incompetence became clearer) with very competent forest and ecological officers (all from the same university as you, wouter). Since thier appointement, I can bet you, the company is very far from what you think. Skid plans are made, first aid kits in all vehicules and bases (offcourse you can't see a first aid kit at work when nobody is injured or ill), workers trained in first aid principles, special trucks for the transport of personnel, social and work security for the personnel, improved communication between management team and workers, company store for worker's, convention with the hospital to take care of worker's and family paid by company, etc. etc.
Infact, Wouter, the impression you gave in your first posting was that you were in the concession recently, but as far as I understand now, your visit was in 2004, when the company was still 1.5 years from being certified. You now say FSC is not based on improvement? If I get you right, does it mean that a company which was bad before, can never be certified if he cleans up and starts doing things right?
In my opinion, the ISO way of working is more rigid than the FSC way. So if BVQi was too ISO, then they would not have been in the problem they are in. The best thing everyone (world wide) can notice is that FSC does not know what they are out for. FSC is still not yet well adapted to African context. The FSC auditor who was present in company audit, was on his very first trip to Africa (in his life) which makes his judgement of the african milieu a very premature and wrong one. All his points of view were contested by the his colleague of the FSC National initiative who was also present at the Audit (when they both are supposed to have the same point of view FSC wise). Why do you think this happened? because his judgement was too premature and does not take into consideration the african context.
Its unfortunate to hear from an "FSC auditor" which you call yourself, that FSC is not based on improvement. For your information, FSC is a continous improvement scheme in which the company has to constantly improve its level.
Why are there as many indicators as you find? Simply because there are many different ways of solving the same problem. So maybe the solutions you thought or pre-fixed in your mind, are not the same one you saw, but that does not imply that the problem was not solved. Offcourse there is no worker on earth who is satisfied with his/her working conditions. Everybody wants to grow and get richer or bigger, reason why you alwasy have complaints from workers, but which does not imply that they are neglected or thier rights are not considered. What do you know about worker's rights in Cameroon? Why don't you talk about the employer's right which are not also respected by the employees? Or don't you think that its an important aspect?
For your information, the management team is a very competent one and are complying very well with the criteriae. The best thing you can do for yourself is come there again and see for yourself.
From information I just had, you were on internship in the company in 2003, and was sent off because you did not master many things. That makes it atleast 3 years time difference and 2 years before the company had a certificate. So please I will suggest that you get back there (if u can) and renew your impression. Its a good feeling the see an african company with a good forest management system, and that is what earned them thier FSC certificate and nothing else.
Please try to be objective. Objectivity does so much good in your career. Your postings give me the impression that you do not have a career yet. Your so called "FSC auditor" status is very questionable.
have anice time

Dear Robert

Herein seems to lie the fundamental misunderstanding (as, indeed, Wouter indicated): that BVQI seems to be under the impression that FSC is a *process-based* certification system (ie, what you describe as a 'continuous improvement' system).

FSC is nothing of the sort, and never has been. It was set up as a *performance-based* system, and that is what it is meant to be. This means that companies are only supposed to get a certificate if they comply with the agreed set of Principles, Criteria or indicators *at the time of assessment*.

The point that I think Wouter has been making is that, in his experience, Wijma did not and could not have done. The view from the FSC Secretariat on BVQI's performance in issuing Wijma with a certificate would seem to support that.


FSC watch,

I am sorry i do not understand the phrase "herein seems to lie the fundamental misunderstanding" . That sound so much like Dutch English. How could a 'misunderstanding' be a 'lie' at the same time? Its either one or the other. Please correct me if I am wrong.
We may have different understandings of what 'peformance based' and 'continuos improvement' may mean. I completely understand what you mean and I will like to signal that continous improvement is a continuation of the 'peformance base'. What I imply is that your idea about peformance based (at the time of assessment) is right, but what happens after the time of assesment? Is the company not called up to improve and to keep improving? If you have a bit of experience, you will know by now that FSC standards have no top limit. They always say its not good enough even if it complies with the PC&I or not.
As for Wouter, I am just trying to point out the importance of the time lapse and the tremendous changes that have taken place between the time of his visit (2003) and the present day (2007). I don't think we are talking about 3 or 4 DAYS here. Its 4 years, sir. Besides he is in NO PLACE to imply or say that Wijma "could not have done". Such declarations come up because he was said to be incompetent and offcourse did not have any vision of change for the better. I still invite him to go there and see for himself.
As for you FSC Watch, you have been totally hard on Ali Baba who has been asking for information about the CIB certificate. I support Ali Baba, in that the CIb certificate is too crouded with politics. The fact that this certificate was delivered by Heiko Leideker himself, makes it so over held and so supported by FSc international. They can't dare to say or show that thier boss did not go into details before handing that certificate. Furthermore, FSc international publishes articles on thier website about CIB FSc products; last year in Cameroun tribune there were articles with FSC CMR talking about the departure of CIB FSc products, etc. Who is behind all this politics and why? Is that not a matter of conflict of interest?
Thirdly, I came across a team of Congolaise forest officers (from ministry of forestry in Congo DRC) and representatives of certain NGOs from DRC, at one seminar in Cameroon, and to my greatest dismay, non of them knew that CIB congo had FSC certified forests. I asked more than 5 times to make sure that I am asking the right thing and it was confirmed that they do not know. Whats the implication? How could the ministry of forest in DRC not know that CIB has FSC certified forest? Is this normal? Where has the concept of communication gone to?
Fourthly, does CIB have a website? I once came across the website for ttr or what ever they call thier mother company, and saw pictures of workers at the CIB sawmill working in slippers (almost barefooted), no gloves, infact security material was far from being secure. Yet you guys condemn a company who has a website (www.wijmadouala.com - assuring communication and transperency)in which you find pictures of well advanced security material, how much they are helping the population, and many more. You can even find in that website the fact that this company was visited by the general director of WWF international. i guess we should both try to get his / thier impression about the company. I think thats a good idea.
Please I am also in the search for more information about the CIB certificate and offcourse not from greenpeace because they will offcourse defend thier interest, (and offcourse thier budget) like all NGOs do. Please be precise on where we can find concrete information. I can't findit on this site either.
Thank you


FSC watch
It would be nice if you do not consider the first paragrah of my last posting. i now understand the phrase in question. Just as a point of reminder, it is my opinion about of FSc and not the opinion of BVQi.



Dear Robert,

I was visiting the consession in 2004. There were problems with the recognition of the exact borders of the consession 09-021. The company also asked me to write an evaluation, which I did.
I have never been hired on contract with the company, so I could not have been fired or sended away :)
Further, I am certified as FSC and ISO 14001 auditor, this means that I know more about certification than the average person.
At the moment I work in Finland for a forest management office, our website is www.ssyh.fi. I am also active in the Finnish FSC working group. I make continuous cover management plans (the first in Finland), give lectures and advise on CCF and on FSC FM and CoC. So far for my career.

FSC certification is performance based certification. This means that there shall not be any non-compliances before the certificate is issued. That is a real difference with ISO certification schemes as far as I understand it.

If the management would have been okay, as you seem to state in your message, I don't understand why the CB did get 5 major CARs after audit.
I have nothing against the company in question. I just happened to be there. I do have my questions about the way this is handled by the FSC. I don't think that is necessarily a negative opinion. I would rather see the FSC focus more on the quality of the actual management than on the expansion of the FSC certified area. Fast growth is most often not the most sustainable growth. I see an example of that in this 09-021 case in Cameroon. Apperently the quality was not high enough, therefor 5 major non-compliances and even more minor non-compliances have been found. This means that something is not in order.´and the certificate has been issued too early. Saying that "circumstances in Africa are harder" and "much effort has been done for improvement" does not change that. In my point of view quality should be especially high in countries like Cameroon, this also in relation with the high conservation values.

I read on this website that people asked for first hand experiences, so I thought to share mine with you. Now you question my person or my competence, thanks for that, very constructive, but that does not change my point of view and does not erase the amount of non-compliances that were found.

I do really hope that there is much improved at GWZ in the mean time!
Fact is that I do see the same non-compliances named in the FSC ASI report as I noted them in the year 2004. So, indeed it is years ago that I have been there, still, the remarks are the same.. I did write a report with recommendations for improvement for the company, so it is not true that I had no "vision for change for the better". If the company does something with the information they get is of course up to the management. Furthermore, the consession is named in the Independent Forest Monitor report.. This does tell me something about the pace of improvement.

Wish you a nice weekend and hope you would not take things so very personal.

Regards, Wouter

Thank you Wouter,

i do not actually take things personnal. I just try to analyse and be objective. I am so interested in knowing why FSC "claims" to be good, meanwhile thier system is really a mess. They try to put the blame on either the certifier or the company. they really do not look at thier own system. They often defend themselves by saying that "...is not at the right level". What is the right level? I bet you FSC cannot answer this question.
Wouter I agree with you that FSC is a peformance based scheme, but can't be maintained without continuos improvement. I wonder if you really get my point. The following paragraph comes from the FSC website, and it talks about the PC&Is. please read it carefully:

"...FSC and FSC-accredited certification organizations will not insist on perfection in satisfying the P&C. However, major failures in any individual Principles will normally disqualify a candidate from certification, or will lead to decertification. These decisions will be taken by individual certifiers, and guided by the extent to which each Criterion is satisfied, and by the importance and consequences of failures. Some flexibility will be allowed to cope with local circumstances.
The scale and intensity of forest management operations, the uniqueness of the affected resources, and the relative ecological fragility of the forest will be considered in all certification assessments. Differences and difficulties of interpretation of the P&C will be addressed in national and local forest stewardship standards. These standards are to be developed in each country or region involved, and will be evaluated for purposes of certification, by certifiers and other involved and affected parties on a case by case basis. If necessary, FSC dispute resolution mechanisms may also be called upon during the course of assessment. More information and guidance about the certification and accreditation process is included in the FSC Statutes, Accreditation Procedures, and Guidelines for Certifiers..."

If you read well, you will get to understand the high need to consider the local context. But thats not the case in FSC today.
So i get to ask myself if FSC has competent people to do the job? That also tells us that FSC cannot use someone who does not know the local context, to evaluate the actions being carried out. This could be the origin of such debates. because people have taken decisions or made reports on what they do not master. Secondly, we should not forget the fact that each criteria has its indicators. and i beleive Eurocertifor is experienced enough to recognise indicators in the feild, before handing out the certificate. Do you think they will give out a certificate which will geopardise thier credibility? It could be thier first FSC certificate but mind you, they have certified thousands of other companies, and I guess they have enough experience. This tells us that the problem is with FSC and not eurocertifor. FSC is not an African thing yet and FSC personnel do not master the African milieu yet (Central Africa precisely). How many people work in ASI FSC? How much do they know about Central Africa? I bet you most of them have never been to Africa.

The fact that you feel that Eurocertifor should have more CARs confirms the fact that you do not know the level at which GWZ finds itself today. I did visit the concession as well(Nov 2006) and coupled with the fact that I have a better mastery of the context than someone from Europe, I think I know what I am talking about.

I am sorry if I had to question your personality, but it was worth asking because you said a lot of stuff which did not resemble a person who knows about FSC. maybe FSC in europe, but not in Africa. I am not out to change your point of view anyway.

If FSC really wants to succeed in Africa, then I guess they should be more objective than political. The FSc business unit should already be forseeing a decline in thier activities in the region, if they do not clearly define thier levels and encourage companies who have done a lot and have REACHED FSC level, like GWZ.
CIB is not being talked about and they do not have a website, so we hardly know what is going on there. But some analysis can show that it is highly protected by greenpeace and FSC themselves (view their interaction and tha fact that thier certificate was handed by Heiko himself). Its strange that even forest officers in Congo do not know about CIB's certification.
GWZ is doing a good job, but the fact that they did all without the help of NGOs and the fact that they did not have a good image before, makes many people not want to accept the fact that they deserve a FSC
certificate. All they need to do is to go there themselves and find out. Just one thing proves this : Eurocertifor has been suspended, but the certificate is maintained. This is because Eurocertifor and maybe FSC believe that the company deserves it.

Have a good time in Finland.



Sorry, you did not get a response to your questions about CIB. The simple answer is, I don't know where you can get more information about this. As with all FSC certificates, the amount of information available publicly is limited to the certifier's Public Summary report, which you should be able to find on SGS's website. You may not have much confidence in Greenpeace, but if you have not already done so then I suggest you do read their report, and compare it with the certifier's Public Summary report. It contains some very interesting insights - and I am sure you could always contact the authors (most of whom, I believe, are independent people commissioned by Greenpeace, rather than being Greenpeace staff) for more information.

And yes, of course, you are right about the extent to which the Secretariat got involved with the public relations and marketing on behalf of CIB. I am sure we all know that this is closely related to the role of a certain forest minister, with whom CIB is closely associated, and who is regionally very active in the forest sector...

Of course, you are also right that certifiers should have strong local expertise to carry out audits. And, moreover, there should be a nationally agreed certification standard, which at present there is not in Cameroon.


PS. In terms of local expertise, one helpful thing is at least to know which country is being talked about: you refer to DR Congo forest officials not knowing anything about CIB, but of course CIB is in the Republic of Congo (RoC) not DRC. There is therefore no particular reason why DRC forest officials should know about the CIB certification. If you know anything about the context of the forest sector in the Congos, the fact that they don't will not surprise you at all.

Hello Robert

Thank you for the comments. I guess its important to really know what is happening in CIB. I am working on that too.
I also see with you in the fact that the local context really matters and the fact that positive moves have to be encouraged rather than barked upon. i have heard so many positive comments about GWZ as well, so I begin to wonder what FSC is all about if they are the only ones who do not see the positive side of all. All the same, its up to them to master thier business potentials.

Good day.


Dear Ali,

This is the least constructive comment I have ever read on a forum.


Dear Wouter,

From your interventions, I think you have a problem identifying what is constructive or not. You either have a problem understanding English or you have a very low IQ. I wonder what kind of "FSC" you do monitor or audit. That gives additional prove to what the FSC system can be, if people like you are auditors. I now see why GWZ did not offer you a place as Robert says, which is why you do not want to accept that there is something positive about
Have a great day.


I read this exchange with interest. Seems to me that a key problem here is that the certificate in Cameroon has been issued against a generic standard developed by the certification body, and not against a nationally agreed certification standard. It is clear from the above exchange that there is no common understanding of the intent of the FSC P&C in the Cameroon context. This is why a national standards-setting exercise is so crucial.

Incidentally, the above exchange also perpetuates misconceptions about the ISO framework. It implies incorrectly that ISO is only about "process-based standards". Certainly ISO14001 and ISO9000 are "process based", but these are only two of a huge range of standards and guidelines developed by ISO.

In fact, a key requirement of the ISO certification framework - as stated in ISO Guide 7 (under 4.4) - is that “parties making use of a standard suitable for use for conformity assessment should be able to derive from the contents of the standard a common understanding of its meaning and intent. The standard should be so clear and precise that it results in accurate and uniform interpretation.”

The ISO approach ensures that every effort is made to tightly define a standard in advance at an appropriate national or regional level so that there is a “common understanding of its meaning and intent”. This is in complete contrast to the FSC concept which allows an accredited certification body to “locally adapt” a set of forestry principles and criteria developed at international level. The responsibility of the certification body evolving the "generic standard" actually extends to the detailed development of performance measures. This makes it all but inevitable that different interests will disagree with the certification body's interpretation and you end up with endless disputes over the validity of certificates.

The best solution would be for FSC to desist from issuing certificates against generic standards, and to ensure rigourous accreditation of certification bodies against relevant ISO and IAF Guidelines.

Cameroon logging industry is known to be subject to bribery and corruptions. The impact of the activity on the locals goes unaddressed. These companies shouldnot be let loose just because they are dealing in a third world nation, we should be accountable for our impact on the environment no matter our location.

learn more about Cameroon, Africa.
Cameroon information site
http://www.cameroon-today.com/index.html Cameroon

Join the Cameroonian community
http://www.kikiriky.com Camerounais.

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