FSC-Watch

An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Veracel: "Sustainable on Paper" thanks to FSCTags: Brazil, Complaints procedures, Plantations, SGS Qualifor, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

On 13 March 2008, SGS Qualifor awarded an FSC certificate for Veracel's monoculture eucalyptus plantations in Bahia, Brazil. WRM announced that this was FSC's "Death Certificate".

In 2010, two Belgian journalists, Leopold Broers and An-Katrien Lecluyse, spent three months investigating the impact of Veracel's monoculture eucalyptus plantations on local communities. They made a documentary, titled, "Sustainable on Paper", based on interviews carried out in Bahia and Belgium:

Broers and Lecluyse listened not only to the company's point of view, but spent time finding out what local communities think about the project...[Continue]

FSC Complaints Panel says organisation 'needs to control certifiers better': SmartWood "undermines" the FSCTags: Democratic Republic of Congo, Controlled wood, Complaints procedures, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

The outcome of Greenpeace's complaint against Congolese logging company SODEFOR, announced by the FSC on March 23rd, will probably not please the complainants very much, but it once again has served to highlight some of the glaring weaknesses in the FSC system.

As we have previously reported, the complaint against SODEFOR's certificate dates back to April 2011, but by the time Greenpeace had lodged their appeal, the certificate had already been withdrawn by the certifier, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood...[Continue]

IKEA supplier Swedwood in Karelia: TV documentary exposes impacts of FSC certified clear-cuts in HCV forestsTags: Russia, High Conservation Value Forests, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Another news documentary causing embarrassment to the FSC appears in its home country, exposing the questionable practices of certified companies. ARD's Plus-minus programme travelled to Russian Karelia to inspect the forestry practices of IKEA subsidiary and timber supplier, Swedwood. What it found there was not pretty. As the documentary points out, Swedwood's large clear-cuts in 'old growth' forest appear to breach FSC's requirements concerning the treatment of High Conservation Value forest. The use of heavy machinery on vulnerable soils could have a lasting impact...[Continue]

What FSC, Greenpeace and Environmental Investigation Agency have to say about Rainforest Alliance's $390,000 'gifts' from GibsonTags: USA, Controlled wood, Greenpeace, EIA, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Gibson Guitars: where have all the fleas come from?Tags: USA, Controlled wood, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

In one of the political blogs still commenting on the US Fish and Wildlife Service's second raid on Gibson Guitars for possible contraventions of the Lacey Act, Republican pundit Andrew M. Langer, berating Gibson for "consorting with environmentalists", refers to an old saying that "if you lie down with dogs be prepared to get up with fleas"...[Continue]

Gibson Guitars fiasco raises new questions about integrity of Rainforest AllianceTags: USA, Legality, Tropical Forest Trust, Controlled wood, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

The raiding of Gibson Guitars in Tennessee in August by US Federal Fish and Wildlife officials for suspected violations of the Lacey Act - which forbids US companies from importing wood obtained from illegal sources - has once again cast a very hard light on the FSC system, and in particular on the Rainforest Alliance, whose SmartWood scheme is the FSC's most prolific issuer of FSC certificates. An October 2nd article (which we reproduce in full below), published in the 'Tennessean' newspaper, has opened new revelations about the relationship between Gibson and the Alliance, which sound loud alarm bells about the 'independence' of the certifier...[Continue]

Things not improving in Rio Platano, Honduras - more questions for Rainforest Alliance and FSCTags: Honduras, Legality, Certifier conflict of interest, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Last week saw the distressing announcement by UNESCO that the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve had been put back on the organisation's 'In Danger' list, at the request of the Honduran government because, it said, of "the combined threats of illegal logging, fishing and land occupation, poaching and the reduced capacity of the State to manage the site". Covering 500,000 hectares, and being one of Central America's most important protected areas, Rio Platano has also gained fame as being a source of mahogany used in the manufacture of Gibson guitars...[Continue]

SIFORCO in DR Congo: nice certificates, shame about the arrests, beatings, burning and rapesTags: Democratic Republic of Congo, Controlled wood, Mixed sources labelling, SGS Qualifor, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Certification in any of the countries in the Congo Basin was always going to stretch the credibility of the FSC system to the limit - as the miserable experiences in Cameroon of companies such as SEFAC and Wijma have shown (the former of which remains 'suspended' for forest management but, illogically, still certified for Chain of Custody). Sadly, because the FSC is unable to control its certifiers, these lessons seem not to have been learned; allowing its certifiers to issue certificates in DR Congo was always bound to end in disaster...[Continue]

CIB - FSC's great African embarrassmentTags: Congo, Tropical Forest Trust, Certifier conflict of interest, SGS Qualifor, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Nothing encapsulates the dismal weaknesses of the FSC system quite as well as the case of Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) - which for many years has been FSC's flagship certified logging operation in Africa.

Much has been written about CIB, which has been one of the most controversial logging operations anywhere in the tropics. Critics have questioned whether the company should qualify for certification right across the sweep of FSC's requirements - its environmental and social impact, and its economic sustainability. Now it seems that its claim to sustainability in all three areas has unravelled, raising further serious questions about how the company could ever have been certified in the first place...[Continue]

"Latvia's pulp fiction": AlJazeera programme on FSC and destructive logging in LatviaTags: Latvia, Corrective Action Requests, High Conservation Value Forests, Hoped-for improvements, Suspended certificates, Controlled wood, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

A programme this week on AlJazeera's People and Power reports on destructive logging in Latvia - including the fact that FSC-certified Latvian timber is still on sale in the UK, despite the fact that the FSC certified was suspended on 16 July 2010.

During 2009 and 2010, the FSC-certified Latvian state logging company, Latvijas Valsts Mezi, doubled the area of forest logged from 15,000 hectares to 30,000 hectares each year. Rainforest Alliance, the FSC certifying body, carried out an audit in June 2010, and found that "the harvesting level in 2009/2010 far exceed the long term sustainable level." As AlJazeera's film reveals, this is something of a euphemism...[Continue]

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