FSC-Watch

An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

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]

FSC's mysterious disappearing certificates #2: SEFAC, CameroonTags: Cameroon, Legality, Suspended certificates, ICILA

Another of the many deeply troubling but now, at least temporarily, vanished FSC certficates exposed by FSC-Watch is that of the rainforest logging 'SEFAC group' in Cameroon. The SEFAC certificate disapeared off FSC's certified forest database sometime during 2009. Neither FSC nor SEFAC itself, nor the logger's certifier, ICILA, provided an explanation for this.

However, the certificate started running into serious trouble already in July 2008, when the FSC's 'certifier watchdog', Accreditation Services International (ASI), carried out a field inspection of the certified company...[Continue]

FSC and the Lacey Act: the $500,000 questionTags: Worldwide, Controlled wood, Mixed sources labelling, Legality, All certifiers

In May 2008, the US government enacted a revision to the Lacey Act, a hundred year-old piece of legislation that renders it illegal to trade in goods in the US which are from illegal sources, which now makes the Act applicable to the timber trade. Whilst timber traders are no doubt hoping that use of FSC certified wood is going to keep them out of prison, they may be in for a nasty shock.

This year's revision to the Act came about through a long lobbying campaign by US environmental groups, who were also joined by the US wood industry and labour organisations in seeking to exclude illegally acquired wood from outside the US...[Continue]

Greenpeace exposes FSC's 'Controlled Wood' fiction: Finland logging 'Out of Control'Tags: Finland, Controlled wood, Mixed sources labelling, Greenpeace, Legality, Soil Association Woodmark, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

A new report from Greenpeace published this month confirms what this website has been warning for nearly two years: that the FSC's so-called Controlled Wood Policy is a shambles, and is allowing wood from highly unacceptable sources into the FSC certified chain of custody.

The report, called 'Out of Control' (available here - pdf file, 3Mb), follows detailed investigations into several logging operations in Finland over the last two years, during which all major paper companies have been audited against the FSC Controlled Wood standard...[Continue]

Millions of FSC certified trees to be uprooted as Brazilian court condemns VeracelTags: Brazil, Certifier conflict of interest, Legality, SGS Qualifor

A final blow has been dealt to the credibility of the now 'self-suspended' FSC certifier SGS, by a Brazilian Federal court decision that nearly one hundred thousand hectares of eucalyptus plantation owned by SGS-certified company Veracel were planted illegally and will have to be torn down within 12 months. The company has also been ordered to pay $12 million in fines for causing environmental damage.

Given the seriousness of the failures with the Veracel certification, combined with what have evidently been gross certification failures in other countries including Guyana, Spain and Poland, FSC-Watch believes that the FSC Secretariat should now impose a global and indefinite suspension on SGS's FSC accreditation...[Continue]

FSC chain of custody no guarantee against timber smuggling in the Mekong RegionTags: Vietnam, UK, Chain of Custody, Legality, SGS Qualifor

Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telepak release a report about illegal logging in the Mekong Region. The report, titled "Borderlines: Vietnam's Booming Furniture Industry and Timber Smuggling in the Mekong Region" documents how timber is illegally transported from Laos to Vietnam, where it is made into furniture. Furniture exports from Vietnam are expanding dramatically, relying on huge quantities of illegally-logged timber from Laos and Cambodia...[Continue]

Nicaragua: Global Witness raises doubts over legality of FSC certified operationsTags: Nicaragua, WWF, Legality, SCS, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

The most recent report of the official Independent Forest Monitor in Nicaragua, the London-based NGO Global Witness, has once again called into question the ability of FSC's accredited certifiers to detect illegalities in certified forestry operations. The December 2007 report notes that "The Monitor was not able to detect a significantly different level of legal compliance between certified and uncertified forest".

Global Witness has directly accused one of the certified operations, Hermanos Ubeda, of illegal logging...[Continue]

Barama, Guyana: WWF's 'suspended' star performer in South America accused by President of giant timber scamTags: Guyana, WWF, Legality, SGS Qualifor

At the start of this year, FSC-Watch reported on the 'suspension' of the FSC certificate of Malaysian-owned Guyanese logging company, Barama. A statement issued today by the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, who accuses Barama of "fraud", will come as a further embarrassment to supporters of the certificate.

One of the issues which the 'suspension' of Barama's certificate raised was the extent to which the FSC system is able or unable to detect high-level fraud and corruption associated with companies seeking certification...[Continue]

Certification of Vasto Legno/SEFAC, Cameroon; Another major blow to FSC's credibilityTags: Cameroon, Legality, ICILA

FSC-Watch has received unconfirmed reports that the Italian certification company ICILA has issued a certificate to the Cameroonian Groupe SEFAC, which is owned by Italian timber company Vasto Legno. Although the Public Summary report of the certification is not yet available on ICILA's website, sufficient details have already emerged to suggest that this will come as yet another major blow to FSC's credibility.

The Vasto Legno subsidiary SEFAC (Société d'Exploitations Forestières et Agricoles du Cameroun), has been logging in the rainforests Cameroon's Eastern province for more than three decades...[Continue]

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