Arguably, the National Initiatives (NIs) have been amongst the most successful parts of the FSC ‘project’: some NIs have genuinely brought together disparate interests to find acceptable compromises, which have allowed for national or regional standards to be developed. These national standards are a key element in ensuring that what the FSC’s accredited certifiers certify is acceptable to local ‘stakeholders’.
But this has not always been the case. One of FSC’s larger and most controversial certificates – that of Coillte in Ireland – was issued under a draft national standard which in turn had been produced by a dysfunctional national initiative, the Irish Forest Certification Initiative (IFCI)...[Continue]
Last month, FSC-Watch reported on the ‘race to the bottom’ of FSC standards for certification of the Presov Forest District in Slovakia.
The race has now been run, and the certificate – which was withdrawn only a few weeks ago by Soil Association WoodMark - has now been ‘re-awarded’ by SGS. One representative of the Slovak environmental movement has said that they are ‘sickened’ by this development, and have dismissed the certificate as “nothing but greenwashing”...[Continue]
The Soil Association's FSC-accredited certifier WoodMark has just announced a 'stakeholder consultation' for the potential certification of two management units of the huge Indonesian plantation company, Perhutani.
Many people, not least members of the FSC who care about the organisation's reputation, will probably be somewhat surprised about this: the very same Perhutani management units were amongst those that had their FSC certificates 'suspended' (and evidently completely withdrawn) by SmartWood in August 2001...[Continue]
The following was submitted by the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance
Embargo until: 00.01am Monday the 27th of November 2006
An alliance of environmental and social groups from Ireland today sent a detailed and powerful rebuttal of the environmental certification of Coillte, Ireland's largest forestry company, to the Lord Peter Melchett and the Board of the Soil Association, who are responsible for the certificate.
In the rebuttal, the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance (IESS) slams Irish state forestry company Coillte's record on the environment and social issues...[Continue]
One the major structural problems that seems to underlie much of what is going wrong in the FSC is that contracts for certification assessments are arranged directly between logging companies and the FSC's accredited certifiers. Because of this - and especially because the award of a certificate will ensure future profits for the certifiers from monitoring and re-assessments - certifiers have a strong financial incentive to award certificates even when the logging company does not comply with the FSC's Principles and Criteria.
Another consequence is that certifiers are effectively competing with each other to show that they are the most likely to award a certificate - and the way that they do this is by lowering their assessment standards, 'turning a blind eye' to any major problems that they find, or taking a very 'sympathetic' view towards the company under scrutiny...[Continue]
The following Open Letter to David Nahwegahbow, Chair of the Forest Stewardship Council, has been submitted by Philip Owen of Geasphere .
Re: Certification of Industrial Timber Plantations in South Africa
Dear Mr. David Nahwegahbow
I look to you for guidance and advice. I represent a organization opposed to the further expansion of Industrial Timber Plantations (ITP's)in Southern Africa and elsewhere.
We firmly believe that ITP's comes at a massive cost to the natural and social environment, and that these costs have not been quantified...[Continue]
A new report from researcher Janette Bulkan has cast an interesting light on the Guyanese logging industry, including FSC-certified company Barama.
The report seems to confirm what many Guyanese have long known: that the logging industry is not much good for anybody other than the logging companies themselves. According to the new research, as reported in the Starkbroek News, even the FSC-certified Barama brings little or no value to this desperately poor country...[Continue]
One of the more controversial of FSC's policies has been the 'Mixed Sources' policy, which allows manufactured products such as plywood, paper and furniture to be labelled as 'FSC' even though the amount of wood fibre from FSC-certified sources is actually as little as 10% of the total wood material in the poroduct.
Quite apart from the fact that such 'Mixed Sources'-labelled products are likely to be seriously misleading to the consumer (following recent changes to FSC's rules, the product labels no longer even have to say how much of the product is actually from FSC-certfied sources), there is also the question of 'what about the remaining uncertified material'? Some FSC members have been warning for years that, in the absence of any meaningful controls, there is a real risk that Mixed Sources products would become a way of 'laundering' wood from unacceptable sources into FSC-labelled products...[Continue]
One of the problems with the FSC is that the public is almost always reliant on the FSC certifiers' own reports to understand what is going on in any certfied area of forest - and, as we know, the certifiers have a vested economic interest in telling us the best and maybe, well, glossing over the worst. But in the interests of greater transparency, FSC-Watch can now bring you, thanks to GoogleEarth, a satellite's view of some of the operations of FSC's biggest certified company, Tembec, in Quebec, Canada (see below).
Some people might be surprised that something certified by FSC as an 'environmentally acceptable' forestry operation actually appears to be a vast area of clear-felled forest and logging roads...[Continue]
One of the underlying reasons for the existence of this site is that it is difficult, or impossible, even for the FSC members, to pick their way through the relentless 'public relations' output from the Secretariat, and to know what is really going on within the organisation. For example, whilst we hear repeatedly about the expanding area of the Earth's surface under FSC certification, we never seem to hear about the complaints that have been filed about any of these certificates. We never seem to hear that, for example, almost the entire Indonesian NGO community has, for several years, been calling for a cessation of the issuing of any new FSC certificates in their country (and which has been completely ignored by a number of certifiers and by the FSC itself)...[Continue]