At the end of last year, FSC-Watch reported on the certification of the Galician plantation company, NORFOR. The company has been the source of much controversy and opposition from local people. Following an investigation into NORFOR's certifier, SGS, FSC's own Accreditation Services International has now reported that environmental concerns were justified, and that the company was non-compliant with FSC's Principles and Criteria.
FSC-ASI undertook its inspection of SGS's certificate in May of this year. It resulted in SGS being issued with three Major Corrective Action Requests, which could result in SGS's suspension from FSC if not complied with, because:
- Stakeholders were not given a chance to provide meaningful input into NORFOR's performance, and indeed were not even able to find out which sites were being assessed;
- NORFOR had not made available a public summary of its management plan at the time of certification, in contravention of FSC Principle 7:
- SGS was unable to demonstrate NORFOR's compliance with FSC Principle 9.
In addition, 6 Minor Corrective Action Requests were issued against SGS, including that they issued a certificate to a company that was not carrying out the legally required Environmental Impact Assessments and was allowing invasive species to spread, and that SGS's certification assessment used the wrong methodology.
FSC-Watch is encouraged that FSC-ASI is increasingly targeting poor practices by the accredited FSC certifiers, and is making its reports publicly available. However, the mere issuing of CARs against recalcitrant certifiers such as SGS does not seem to be having the desired effect of stopping innappropriate certificates from happening in the first place. Whilst it has proven to be non-compliant with the Principles and Critieria, the certificate nevertheless remains in place, which means that FSC is knowingly misleading consumers about the products emanating from this company.
We believe that FSC-ASI needs to be given greater powers to immediately suspend certificates and certifiers which are not compliant with FSC's P&C.
The FSC-ASI report on SGS's certification of NORFOR is available here.