Earlier this year, we reported that Rainforest Alliance SmartWood was in the process of consulting about whether it should start a new 'Legality Verification' scheme for timber. Our opinion was that the Rainforest Alliance's previous track-record of detecting illegality had been so dismal that there is no reason to believe that they are capable of identifying even gross breaches of the law. Now we have received information of yet another case where SmartWood appears to have 'turned a blind eye' to serious illegalities in one of the logging companies it has certified under the FSC scheme...[Continue]
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]
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]
This posting has been submitted by Anthony Amis, Friends of the Earth Melbourne, Australia.
In February 2004, Hancock Victorian Plantations received Australia's first
FSC certification [certifier: SmartWood]. Many interested parties initially hoped that FSC would
deliver on what it promised and we would see a marked improvement in
Hancock's forest management practices. Those promises have not eventuated
and in many ways Hancock's forest management is getting worse not better...[Continue]
The Peoples' Permanent Tribunal* which has been investigating the social and environmental impacts of companies in Colombia, has recently heard evidence against a number of companies, including two that are certified by the FSC: Smurfit Kapa Cartón de Colombia and Pizano SA. (Smurfit was certified for FSC by SGS Qualifor; in contravention of FSC's requirements, there was no information about this certificate available on SGS's website at the date of this posting. Pizano was certified by SmartWood.)
The 'verdict' of the Tribunal's meeting in Colombia's Low Atrato region on 26-27 February 2007 included the following conclusions:
"The company Smurfit Kapa Cartón de Colombia was accused of the violation of human, environmental, social and cultural rights...[Continue]
SmartWood's Richard Donovan sent this response to my email dated 11 January 2006. This is not the audit report, as Donovan promised by 22 January 2006 in his response to my email. "Review of our final audit report draft is still underway in Laos," Donovan says in yesterday's statement (below)...[Continue]
Subject: FSC in Laos
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 09:52:45 +0100
From: Chris Lang
To: Richard Donovan (Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood)
CC: smartwood@....id, FSC-Watch, Ricardo Carrere (WRM)
Dear Mr Donovan,
On 2 October 2006, you and Loy Jones (Asia Pacific Regional Manager, Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood) issued a statement about an article I'd written for the World Rainforest Movement...[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]