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Another NGO quits FSC in protest against NORFOR plantationsTags: Galicia, Spain, Plantations, SGS Qualifor

Galician environmental group the Association for the Ecological Defence of Galicia (ADEGA) has announced the withdrawal of its support to FSC, at least until the the certificate of NORFOR, ENCE's eucalyptus plantation operation, is cancelled.

ADEGA was the only major Galician NGO that continued supporting FSC after the Galician environmental movement as a whole withdraw its support to the certificate in 2006. One of the former supporters of FSC in Galicia, Association in Defense of the Ria of Pontevedra, is now actively petitioning other Galician and Spanish NGOs to withdraw their support for FSC.

ADEGA's withdrawal comes as another warning of the critical damage that is being done to FSC through its failure to control certifiers such as SGS, which continue to certify non-compliant companies with impunity.

20 May 2008 ADEGA withdraws its support to FSC due to bad practices of NORFOR

This decision was motivated by the continuance of the FSC certificate to NORFOR. FSC certification will not have ADEGA's support, at least until FSC changes its position about the certificate obtained by NORFOR (Norte Forestal SA), the forestry branch of ENCE. This certificate, that in theory ensures sustainable management of forests, serves actually to cover the bad forestry practices of ENCE's subsidiary.

These bad practices forced numerous Galician environmental groups to demand the cancellation of this FSC certificate. Internal bureaucracy problems within FSC mean that, in practice, NORFOR continues having a certificate today that covers the predatory forest policy practiced by this company.

NORFOR's FSC certificate was obtained after a suspiciously brief process of 6 months, and relates to several hundred concessions scattered throughout the country. Meanwhile, environmental groups such as ADEGA and the APDR denounced the indiscriminate use of herbicides such as glyphosate, practices of excessive damage to subsoil and consequent increase in erosion, clear-cuttings of more than 20 hectares, and the complete lack of promotion of the use of native species in their plantations.

Several Galician environmental groups, including ADEGA, denounced repeatedly the bad practices of NORFOR and asked for the cancellation of the FSC certificate. After more than two years during which several audits by SGS were undertaken, not only no advances have taken place but several claims were raised against the certifier SGS for not fulfilling the necessary guarantees to carry out its work and listen the complainants.

Due to the above problems, ADEGA decided to withdraw its support to FSC. ADEGA does not support the Pan-European Forest Certification either since it does not include the minimum requisite to guarantee a sustainable forest management. At the moment, ADEGA contemplates the possibility of promoting a Galician forest certification that guarantees certain environmental requirements and allows producers and consumers to recognize which timber products have been produced through respectful environmental procedures.

ADEGA's original press release (in Galician) is available here

Comments

Dear Forest - Watch,

Greetings!

Please kindly investigate the SGS (Malaysia) for the Controlled Wood that they verified that Sabah has the potential to be controlled wood despite that Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo)is very rich in nature which most of the endangered species can be found here. The landscape is horrible which you may see the image from the Google Earth. Most of the forest is currently converted to plantation.
We found out that some of the forest managed by the Sabah Forestry Department wants to get FSC certified and some companies under the Sabah Foundation are also in the process of getting FSC certified. Forest here in Sabah are treated for the sake of getting profits and not to conserve the nature. With poor quality assessment from the SGS (Malaysia) some of the companies are already processing the FSC Mixed and more forest are being destroyed. The Sabah forest is currently having a problem of land conversion. Please kindly do something to save our forest...we are hoping that someone out there can help us to solve this problem.

Hopefully yours,
Sabahan

The ecological association Verdegaia (Galiza, Spain) has ceased its support of the sustainable forestry certification of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) after confirming that it does not guarantee, in all cases, an authentically sustainable management of the forests certified. Even though there are many examples, worldwide, of forests certified under FSC that have a responsible and socially just environmental management system, it is also true that the system is deficient and occasionally makes possible the certification of forestall areas that are not sustainable. The FSC certification of forests managed by NORFOR a company belonging to the ENCE Group in Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria (Spain) is a good example of fraudulent certification.

FSC is a forestall certification system that is clearly preferable to the PFEC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes), which is the system under which the Xunta certified some 100,000 hectares of the forestall areas they manage and the Spanish standards for the FSC certification are a good guide for sustainable forestry management. However, FSC does not properly guarantee that the principles and criteria that it promotes are applied in practice in the certified forests. Thus, it was possible that a Company such as NORFOR irregularly obtained a certificate in 2004, a fact that is even recognised by the Accreditation Services (ASI) of FSC International itself. With a small initial effort and the introduction of certain improvements resulting from the complaints presented by ecological organisations, as well as counting on protracted time limits, NORFOR has been able to maintain this certification up until now. This case, as well as other similar cases in the rest of the world, has led Verdegaia to resign from FSC Spain and to abandon the Galician Group for the Support of the Forestry Certification FSC.

Verdegaia has carried out a diligent follow-up of the FSC certification in NORFOR, presenting comments to the auditors. In this way, it has been possible to verify in person the inadequate rigour with which, both the auditing company SGS, contracted by NORFOR and accredited by FSC to certify these forests, and FSC International itself, who supervised the certifications, have worked.

As Verdegaia understands it, FSC needs urgent reforms to prevent and quickly cancel inadequate certifications. The principal aspect to be corrected is the lack of independence and professionalism of the accredited auditors, which are selected and paid by the same companies that are interested in obtaining the certification. Whilst the FSC does not correct its deficiencies it will never be a fully credible system.

The level of environmental exigencies of the FSC system is greater than the legislation requires, but this is a result of the debility of the existing legal framework rather than the strength of the FSC. This is very evident in Galicia, in the specific case of the Eucalyptus, which can be located and managed with very few environmental restrictions, despite the disastrous results of the massive and disordered expansion of the Eucalyptus registered in the last few decades. Thus, it is not surprising that a company such as NORFOR can cause serious environmental damage in their forest management, without the Xunta doing anything to prevent it.

Verdegaia will support, within its possibilities, those initiatives that make the certifications promoted by FSC (an international non-governmental organisation integrated by associations, companies and individuals) more credible. In any case, Verdegaia is more in favour of voluntary ecological certification systems under public regulation and control, as are those applied to agriculture and animal husbandry.

ENCE loses one certificate in Spain. Soon to lose another in Uruguay? | FSC-Watch
FSC Watch: ENCE loses one certificate in Spain. Soon to lose another in Uruguay?
On 19 June 2008, Spanish pulp company ENCE lost its FSC certification in Spain, when its subsidiaries Norte Forestal (Norfor) and Silvasur had their certificate withdrawn. Norfor manages just over 12,000 hectares of industrial tree plantations in th...

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