FSC-Watch

An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

FSC: 10 unanswered questions. And one new one.Tags: Worldwide, FSC Secretariat, Tropical Forest Trust

One of things that we at FSC-Watch worry about is that the FSC seems to have such a poor memory - so poor, in fact, that it keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. So, to help it along, we are issuing here a list of some of the questions we have asked over the last few months, and that have never been answered. And we have an important new question too.

  1. In what sense is wood covered by the 'Controlled Wood Standard' actually 'controlled', and by whom?

  2. When is a murder not 'violent'? (This is a 'trick' question, so we'll give you the answer: when it's got anything to do with a company that the Tropical Forest Trust is aiming to massage through the FSC certification process)...[Continue]

Hard-up certifier seeks job 'on the side'Tags: Worldwide, Certifier conflict of interest, All certifiers, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Up until a few years ago, FSC's accredited certifiers were prohibited from certifying for other forest certification schemes, because of the obvious conflict of interest that this would represent. But, as has been the way of things in the FSC, such a ban represented an obstacle to the increase of the certifiers' profits, and was therefore duly done away with. (One of the more bizarre justifications offered for this profound weakening of the FSC's rules, from the now Chair of FSC's Board, Grant Rosoman, was that, if the certifiers were prohibited from 'moonlighting' for other schemes, then they would simply set up nominally separate organisations to get around this rule...[Continue]

FSC in Russia: 'sustainable forest management' or simply money and politics?Tags: Russia, WWF, Greenpeace, Accreditation controls, SGS Qualifor, Control Union, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

FSC-Watch has been sent the following article by Svetlana Alekseeva, Chief Editor of "Forest Certification". It raises a number of serious questions about the motivation of various 'stakeholders' involved in FSC certifications in Russia.

Students of the history of global forest management and policy will recognise some of the underlying themes and concerns of this article. Over the last 100 years or so, wherever large 'forest frontier' areas come under extensive exploitation, the addition of new (often legal) requirements for 'sustainable forest management' are skillfully used by the larger interests to squeeze out their competitors, enabling them to consolidate their land-holdings and reduce their competitors' market share...[Continue]

New report increases doubts about SGS's reliabilityTags: Papua New Guinea, Certifier conflict of interest, Legality, SGS Qualifor

Back in November 2006, FSC-Watch reported on the strange lack of consistency between SGS and other observers as diverse as Greenpeace and the World Bank, on the question of the legality, or otherwise, of logging in Papua New Guinea. Whilst most experts take the view that illegal forestry activities are rampant - possibly dominant - in PNG, SGS seems to believe that all log exports from PNG have been legal for the last 12 years...[Continue]

WWF decides that biggest tropical logging certificate was not such a good thing after allTags: Guyana, WWF, SGS Qualifor

Back in January, FSC-Watch reported that the largest FSC certified tropical logging operation (Barama, in Guyana) had had its certificate suspended. One of the interesting aspects of this was that WWF had been working closely with the company for some time, providing technical advice and helping the company to get its certificate. This was clearly an embarrassment for WWF, who had only 9 months earlier breathlessly exclaimed that the certificate was a "record-setting accomplishment for tropical forest conservation in South America"...[Continue]

Exporting the FSC 'model' to biofuels?Tags: Worldwide, Biofuels

FSC-Watch was interested to learn recently that FSC Executive Director, Heiko Liedeker, has joined the Steering Board of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), which is based in the Federal Polytechnic (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.

According to its website, the newly established RSB "is a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop international standards for sustainable biofuels production and processing, hosted by the Energy Center at EPFL. The Roundtable will bring together non-governmental organizations, companies, governments, inter-governmental organizations, experts, and other concerned parties to draft principles and criteria to ensure that biofuels deliver on their promise of sustainability."

Liedeker will be joined on the Steering Board of the RSB by luminaries including Claude Martin, former Director General of WWF (under whose leadership WWF moved ever closer to the interests of the corporate sector); Rolf Hartl, of the Federation of Swiss Oil Companies; and Rebecca Heaton of BP...[Continue]

WoodMark pioneers 'continuous deterioration' certification in IrelandTags: Ireland, Hoped-for improvements, Plantations, Soil Association Woodmark

Finally, as the FSC's inspectors arrive at its doors for its annual accreditation inspection, Soil Association WoodMark has produced the long-awaited and overdue report of its 2006 surveillance of controversial Irish state forestry company, Coillte.

Many people, not the least Irish environmental and social stakeholders, will be disappointed that WoodMark has failed to cancel the certificate outright, in the face of overwhelming evidence of Coillte's non-compliance with FSC's Principles and Criteria. But what is revealing about the report is the number of 'Correction Action Requests' that WoodMark has had to issue in order to keep the certificate alive...[Continue]

FSC Chain of Custody: into the realm of fantasyTags: Worldwide, Chain of Custody, Legality

The FSC is set to continue on its seemingly inexorable slide into becoming a 'self-certification' system with new changes to the Chain of Custody procedures. As announced in the most recent FSC Newsletter (see below), the FSC is currently piloting what are called 'multi-site' procedures, in which the FSC's accredited certifiers would not actually check all the relevent company facilities in order to issue a Chain of Custody certificate.

This will add a further layer of discredit to what is already an opaque, muddled and highly doubtful system...[Continue]

Ireland: embarrassment mounts for Soil AssociationTags: Ireland, Plantations, Hoped-for improvements, Certifier conflict of interest, Soil Association Woodmark

More than three months after its most recent surveillance visit, Soil Association Woodmark has still failed to produce a Public Summary report stating whether, or under what conditions, it believes that the Irish state forestry company, Coillte, can remain FSC-certified.

Soil Association Woodmark took over the already controversial certification of Coillte's 400,000+ hectares of mostly exotic plantations from SGS in 2004. Since then, increasing evidence has been presented to Woodmark about Coillte's non-compliance with the FSC Principles and Criteria...[Continue]

Swaziland: FSC credibility hits all time low with certification of SappiTags: Swaziland, Pesticides, Plantations, Soil Association Woodmark

In November 2004, on a visit to Swaziland with Wally Menne of TimberWatch, I saw the destruction caused by fifty years of industrial forestry "development". Many of the plantations were established under a British "aid" programme run by the Colonial Development Corporation (now called CDC Group - a private equity company whose sole shareholder is the UK Department for International Development).

I saw Sappi's apparently endless pine monocultures and huge clearcuts...[Continue]

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