An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

NGOs in a tangle over need for FSC 'reforms'Tags: Worldwide

As the FSC General Assembly opened in Cape Town, northern NGOs were falling over themselves to issue statements as to how the FSC should be 'reformed' - or to try to claim that it already has been - but the contradictory demands set out by these NGOs are likely to ensure that the FSC will continue to stumble towards chaos, irrelevance and non-credibility.

First amongst the NGO statements was the Brussels and UK-based FERN, in a statement issued jointly with Greenpeace, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), the Tropical Forest Trust and the African logging lobby organisation, the Inter-African Forest Industry Association (IFIA). Asserting that the FSC's problems "are so severe that supporting FSC threatens their own organisations’ credibility", FERN and its friends have identified three main areas in need of improvement, specifically:

FERN et al's statement then sets out a multi-point plan for how some these problems should be solved. On the most difficult issue - the poor performance of the certifiers - the statement says that "The race to the bottom among certification bodies must be halted and reversed". This, it says, can be achieved through a number of recommended actions, such as heavier financial penalities for certifiers that fail to uphold the FSC's requirements, a public 'rating system' for the certifiers, faster publication of certification reports, and a 'screening' mechanism for new certificates before they are issued.

Whilst the statement by FERN and the other groups recognises that the direct financial link between the certifiers and their timber company clients is a major problem, it fails to come up with any proposals that would remedy this underlying flaw in the FSC systems. Instead, the statement proposes a series of complicated new control measures of precisely the kind which have failed to materialise or be properly implemented in the past. Bringing these new controls about would no doubt be seen by most NGOs as requiring a huge amount of effort, at precisely the time when many groups are already complaining of having to spend too much time trying to make FSC work properly.

Confusingly, the following day, the report 'Holding the Line with the FSC' was issued by Greenpeace, which seems to contradict many of the points made in its joint statement with FERN. Whilst Greenpeace acknowledged that "a growing number of certificates do not meet FSC performance standards" and that "a majority of the problems stem from the rigour of the audit processes of the FSC accredited certification bodies", it also said that many of its proposed reforms had already been adopted by FSC, whilst others would soon be fixed.

Greenpeace International Forests Campaigner Judy Rodrigues said that "Since its inception, FSC has been innovative and adaptive in meeting the challenges to transform forest stewardship worldwide. However, this process needs to be ongoing and this report provides constructive criticism to contribute towards its continuous improvement." Greenpeace's criticism was so 'constructive' that they allowed space in the accompanying press release (which was glowingly entitled "Greenpeace documents FSC progress on key problems") for Andrei de Freitas, Executive Director of FSC, to explain that the FSC was already implementing most of the changes which Greenpeace was demanding.

But Greenpeace's cozy approach to FSC will likely serve to isolate it further from grassroots forest protection NGOs worldwide, which have seen years of efforts to improve the FSC come to nothing. The green group was quickly attacked by the e-activist organisers, Ecological Internet which noted that the long awaited report "failed miserably" to fulfil an earlier promise by Greenpeace to publish its review of problematic certifications, and meant that it would carry on endorsing logging operations in old growth forests. Ecological Internet's coordinator, Dr Glen Barry, said that "Greenpeace today released a one page report, with no mention by name of any specific failed FSC certification, of which there are many, and a twelve page, eighty-item laundry list of bureaucratic measures to try, yet again, to make acceptable destroying millions of year old primeval forests for throw away consumer products. The review's only reference to primary forests is that better training manuals are needed for their destruction".

The mass of environmental organisations that have signed on to the World Rainforest Movement's statement against FSC-certifed plantations, will also no doubt be wondering how Greenpeace can be satisfied with FSC's supposed improvements, when companies such as Veracel are still being certified. Some of Greenpeace's more astute and knowledgeable forest campaigners are probably wondering how companies that were not long ago targets of their campaigns and described as 'forest criminals' have been able to quickly re-invent themselves as models of 'sustainable forest management' by obtaining FSC-certification, and are now endorsed by their organisation.

As far as FSC-Watch can tell, Greenpeace's statement appears to be more aimed at placating some of its pro-logging 'forest campaigners' than bringing about any meaningful improvements in the FSC or protecting the world's forests. Greenpeace's marketing department will no doubt be satisfied that it can carry on promoting the simplistic and misleading notion that the organisation is protecting the world's forests by promoting the use of FSC certifed timber. It would no doubt also be difficult for Greenpeace now to pretend anything other than that 'the FSC is already improving', given that its own representative, Grant Rosoman, chaired the FSC International Board during several years to 2007, when the organisation continued to slide out of control, and its credibility plummeted.

The FSC will probably be breathing a huge sigh of relief that it has satisfied groups like Greenpeace that it has already undertaken 'reforms', but without having to tackle the underlying problem that the certifiers which it is supposed to control actually have a stranglehold over it. The world's timber traders, plantation owners and paper companies will be rubbing their hands in glee at how supposedly leading environmental groups have conspired in their own co-option and entrapment into defending a certification system that mostly now only serves to greenwash the wood industry's activities.

Their satisfaction is likely to be short-lived, however, when NGOs are forced to abandon the FSC altogether, and it becomes just another non-credible logging industry self-certification scheme.


We will see, whats going on in this fraud system. MAybe we must all stand up and make a action in front of GP International....
but good to see the real face of this "NGO"? Is is still one or is it only a fundraisingcompany, nothing else, now going to get much easier fund from the woodmafia? (DLH / Veracel / Stora Enso/ Weyerhauser)
Who have the idea of this criminal act?
Who have start with the Idea of FSC?
Why, only 1 reason, is GPand WWF supporting the System of FSC....
I believe, and i am very! sure, thats only for its an indirect Dollarprintermachine in the moment for them, nothing more, but nothing less!


You obviously know very little about the system and how NGO's work.
Your comments stare blatant to the fact that you are an anti-globalization campaingner, which is not all together wrong, but you are using the wrong forum to achieve your aims.

Remember our forests are precious and a "baby" system like the FSC can help.


Dear „Peter Pan“, who ever You are….
You believe that the system of FSC help a little to protect our Forest: Then please look at this link:
Sorry to say to You, but You have totally right. I don’t understand how some NGO works. That they still support FSC and don’t see that they are tricked out; no I really cannot understand.
I was a Co Cocampainer of GP for few weeks, when I see, what "Fundraisingsystem" they make or which methods they use, I run away as fast as possible. by the way I was about Start member of Robin wood, I have my own NGO (ecological orientated woodworkers) for at least 5 Years until my Job and the work for NGOs was impossible from my time management to do together. I have lost in this time my company and must start again.
I leave the „AK Wald“ in Germany, when they start to implement the fraud and silly system of FSC in Europe.

I am a Founder of the Green party in Germany, and I am a member from the beginning on from the Ecoinsititut Germany. And I work a little with Attac since the beginning. Poor I know and not enough to understand the systems of NGOs…..My time management don’t let me more doing. But Yes, You have rigth, i dindnt understand how NGOs work.
I am working for the protection of forest since the 12 of November 1972, and since their in a regional NGO….
But my mind is not green-washed and empty, not foully thinking of a system, what promised to protect our Primary forest, our Clima, our planet, our live... and so on and do exactly the opposite. Only the interest of the Woodindustrie is protected now.
Please understand, that the time to reform the FSC from inner side, its about ten Years to late!
Awake please, and don’t say any longer that FSC is a baby; FSC is a very ill old guy, full of Alzheimer in strongest matter, (normally only old people have this illness and not babys).

I am deeply involved in the Wood business, for I am a very specialized wood trader since approx 25 Year too.
Yes, I criticize Globalisation too in other forums in the matter of Neoliberal, but there you are in a wrong Forum to discuss. You haven’t seen the work of Globalization in the last few month???
Seems that you haven’t understand anything what’s going on in this world.


Amazing to hear that you are w wood trader for 25 years, profiting out of the timber business!!!!!!!!

How do you justify this?
You are in Germany and the country has managed to reduce your biodiversity over the last 400 years. Fact.
How do we slow this process down with European timber traders buying up all the timber from Africa and South America??

Dear Peter Pan.who ever You are….
Please investigate a little time or brain and look what I am doing. ( I am Gerriet Harms: www.eurobinia.eu or the old webite: www.Robinia.de (in opposite to You I don’t hide myself or my oppinion)
I am producing and trading with European Robinia as “an alternative” to tropical and Boreal wood. (of course not all wood can be substitute by Robinia and so on, but this is not the discussion here). I am trading with Robinia to show that another trading response is possible, from ecological, social and environmental side. I never deal with 1 peace of primary forest wood and/or Gendesertwood. Not before, not now and not in the future time.
You mean, for we have destroyed our primary forest since about 1500 to 2500 Years before, we have no right to save other Primary forest what is necessary for our alive?
You mean, that I am responsible for what people have done 400 Years ago, and this didn’t allow to trade with wood? (means that we are not allowed to use wood?. Hmmm interesting, for what we need then the fraud FSC?
Can You believe, that there are people on the world who are traders and are responsible too?
But buy the way, this is a total other discussion and show me only Your general interesting opinion.
But others You don’t have to say about the fraudulently system?



So what i read into your message through out the varius postings is that by stopping the FSC, we are going to save the rain forests!

Well thats quite clever!

Stopping FSC won't save rainforests. But letting FSC carry on as it is won't save rainforests either, and also has the added disadvantage that it involves lying to the public by telling them that it IS saving rainforests.

Better to do without the lies and find ways of saving rainforests that really do work, no?

Dear Peter Pan:
I think you are an employee of the international wood industry?
Or a member of FSC?
Why You don’t Out Yourself?.

Again I try to explain What happening now:
FSC certify in my eyes noncertifyable Primaryforests (and others like hugh Gendeserts) and the poor Endcomsumer must believe, that’s its a good idea to buy this certified product and not the noncertified temperate tertiarforests like we have in Europe for example…. This is a direct anti-ecological deeply wrong conclusion, what FSC don’t worry about and don’t announce that this is a totally wrong system.
Another reason why its better to live without FSC:
FSC allows companies like DLH Group and others to take a certificate for only at least 2 or 3% of its wood. In the agenda of FSC is written, that the companies who get the label and are working in the economy chamber must reach a significant percent of the wood in at least two Years from the first labeling (so 2% is significant, i don’t know before): The reason FSC have done 15 Year before this good decision: Blood-companies like DLH can proudly present, that they are now FSC certificated and so on the absolutely green way. They don’t have to announce that only a absolutely minority of the wood is certificated) This allow DLH to come up as a really ecology trading company and this company is able to make on the another 98% of the forests owned her all the shit they have done before (when we believe, that FSC Standard are better like before, what i don’t see in the main…)
In this case too: Yes You have understand me here accidently right, its better to live without a foul fraudulent certification scheme (like FSC or PEFC or MTCC and all the other green washings……).
So again I ask You: give me only 1 reason, why FSC labeling is better then not a certiciation of primary forest and Gendesert.
You really want to believe, that FSC is a rainforest protection sheme?????
Ok. You believe in FSC, I believe in the man in the moon.
I think its wasting time to discuss this any longer with blind people. Lets kill our last Primary forest and the end of the human race will come faster, ok….
Deeply concerned

i repeat John:
Better to do without the lies and find ways of saving rainforests that really do work, no?

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