In his long and thoughtful comment to an earlier FSC-Watch posting on 'Legality Verification', Jeff Hayward, Lead Auditor for SmartWood, concluded by saying "we look forward to further inputs. We believe in a transparent consultation process; this is healthy and constructive." In that spirit, FSC-Watch is hereby providing further, transparent, input.
We believe that, first and foremost, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood should consider its previous track record before entering into the thorny area of legality verification...[Continue]
One of the several issues raised in our earlier posting on the FSC in Russia was the case of the 'Komi Model Forest Project', which is taking place in the Komi Republic, north-western Russia. The reports we have received below indicate that this project, which is used as a 'model' for certified forestry operations in European Russia, may be a model of what not to do, rather than one of good practice. It once again raises questions about the competence of SmartWood as an FSC-accredited certifier, and about WWF's relationships with forestry companies...[Continue]
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.
In what sense is wood covered by the 'Controlled Wood Standard' actually 'controlled', and by whom?
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]
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-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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]