In June 2010, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation resigned from FSC Sweden. Two years ago, the SSNC left the board of FSC Sweden. As the largest environmental organisation in Sweden, SSNC's resignation raises serious questions about the ability of FSC to implement its own standards.
Unfortunately, FSC Sweden does seem to have understood the seriousness of the situation. A strange statement on FSC Sweden's website (translation by google, posted below) is titled "FSC does not close the door for SSNC". As SSNC points out in its press release, this is not a problem that simply needs more discussion. SSNC resigned in protest at the failure of FSC Sweden to deal with the fact that "FSC-certified companies violate Swedish forestry law and the FSC standard." SSNC has made several formal complaints that FSC has failed to address.
As a recent report by SSNC documents, Sweden's old-growth forests are under serious threat. "Numerous forests with great importance for nature conservation are being logged at an alarming rate, even by companies certified by Forest Stewardship Council," states Mikael Karlsson SSNC's President in the foreword to the report. A report by Greenpeace released last year found that "Swedish timber with the certification label FSC might come from high conservation value forests that should have been left protected". FSC is not helping to protect Sweden's forests. Instead it is helping to greenwash the destructive logging of Sweden's remaining old-growth forests.
Press release from SSNC:
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation resigns from FSC Sweden
STOCKHOLM, June 16, 2010 (Press Release) - The General Assembly of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the largest environmental organisation in Sweden, has decided to resign from Forest Stewardship Council Sweden. The decision was based on the fact that FSC-certified companies violate Swedish forestry law and the FSC standard. Several formal complaints have been left without effective action by the FSC.
"We are very disappointed. We initiated FSC in Sweden some 15 years ago but today the number of violations of laws and standards is too high for any environmental organisation to accept. We refuse further greenwashing under the FSC logotype", says Mikael Karlsson, President of the society.
The decision to leave FSC Sweden was preceded by extensive discussions within the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). At the recent general assembly of FSC Sweden, SSCN forwarded motions with claims for improvements of the system. One of these proposals, to investigate the certified forest companies' violations of Swedish law, was partially adopted by the FSC assembly. However, the FSC assembly rejected the proposal that forest companies must be transparent with their violations of Swedish laws. The other motion, including concrete proposals for improving the forest management standards, was rejected.
"Over the years, we have put enormous effort in trying to improve FSC Sweden. Still though, the standard is too weak and the requirements are violated. And when we notify complaints on clear violations, the sanctions for companies are too marginal to have a practical impact", says Jonas Rudberg, forest expert SSNC.
The decision of the SSNC General Assembly came after a motion in which an exit from the FSC was proposed. The SSNC board decided recently to endorse resignation of FSC Sweden.
SSNC remains, until further notice, as a member of FSC International.
For questions, contact:
Mikael Karlsson, President, + 46 70-316 27 22 .se
Jonas Rudberg, Forest expert +46 70-214 16 32 .se
Anders Grönvall, presschef, +46 70-655 46 19 .se Also see SSNC’s recent report ”Cutting the Edge – the Loss of Natural Forest in Sweden”
Press release from Protect the Forest:
FSC resignation is welcomed in Sweden Tuesday, 22 June 2010 07:29
This is what you are allowed to do as a FSC-certified forest company without noticeable consequences. By Stora Enso, logged forest and deep wheel tracks in the soil. Photo: Olli Manninen/Protect the Forest 2009.
Sweden's largest environmental organization Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) has resigned from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Sweden. FSC is an international eco-labelling of paper and wood products. The decision is welcomed by the Swedish conservation organization Protect the Forest. FSC is criticized as loggings conducted by forest companies do not adequately comply with its rules, at the same time as sanctions are lacking and basic requirements are too low. Now Protect the Forest urges consumers to put pressure on the Swedish forest companies.
”SSNC’s resignation indicates that the credibility of the FSC certification, as a warranty for products from sustainable forest management, is not valid any more,” said Viktor Säfve, Chairperson of Protect the Forest. “Year after year, we have seen forest companies violate the environmental criteria of the FSC standard by, for instance, logging old-growth forests, felling trees with high biodiversity values, creating deep wheel tracks in the soil and running over watercourses. Despite this, there are no sanctions for the companies involved.”
Similar figures are confirmed by the Swedish Forest Agency, which, in its survey of the forestry, estimates that 28 percent of the fellings in Sweden do not live up to the minimum requirements of Swedish Forestry Act regarding environmental consideration. Protect the Forest also criticizes the FSC because it allows fertilization, large clear-cuts, soil scarification, cleaning of ditches, exotic tree species and pesticides. The system is also based on voluntary protection; too few percent of the forest land is protected. More is needed in order to safeguard the biodiversity, and there are no regulations regarding the quality and long-term safeguard of the voluntarily protected areas.
“Today, Stora Enso’s strongly criticized eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, IKEA’s old-growth forest loggings in Russia and SCA’s and Holmen´s old-growth forest loggings in Sweden are FSC-certified,” said Viktor Säfve, Chairperson of Protect the Forest. “We have actively chosen not to support the FSC since we mean that the system does not work.
“In order to change this situation, customers of Swedish FSC-certified paper and wood products need to urge the Swedish forest companies SCA, Bergvik, Stora Enso, Holmen Skog and Swedwood (IKEA) to immediately stop logging old-growth forests and to use truly sustainable forest management methods,” added Amanda Tas, Forest Coordinator, Protect the Forest. “If no improvements occur, we call for a boycott of Swedish FSC-certified forest products. No more old-growth forests should be felled in the name of FSC.”
Viktor Säfve, Chairperson, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)76 1148811, >.se Amanda Tas, Forest Coordinator, Protect the Forest, >.se
Statement from FSC Sweden:
FSC does not close the door for SSNC
FSC Sweden is sorry that the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has relinquished its membership in the Swedish FSC. The decision was taken by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation General Assembly in June.
"From our side does not mean that we close the door for further dialogue," says Swedish FSC Chairman Tomas Ekström.
FSC is an open system. Criticism and review plays an important role. Both members and other stakeholders have the opportunity to make comments.
In the FSC there is a continual dialogue between the stakeholders involved: from environmental organizations, social organizations and enterprises. All participants should have an equal role as secured by the members are divided into three chambers: social chambers, environmental chambers and economic chambers. Each chamber is always a third of the voting rights when the FSC decides.