The Norwegian government has decided that it it cannot rely on any certification system, not even the FSC, to help implement it's newly announced 'ethical procurement' policy. The Norwegian authorities instead decided to ban all use of tropical timber in public buildings, stating that "The government wants to stop all trade with unsustainably or illegally logged tropical forest products. Today there is no international or national certification that can guarantee in a reliable manner that imported wood is legally and sustainably logged"...[Continue]
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]
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]
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]
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]
SmartWood's certificate for plantation outfit Prime Forestry Panama was suspended in May 2006, but SmartWood noted at the time that:
"From February 2003 to September 2005, SmartWood carried out 5 on-site audits of Prime Forestry Panama (August 2003, April and September 2004, March and Sept 2005). Through these audits PFP provided evidence that nonconformances were being addressed and demonstrated ongoing compliance with SmartWood and FSC certification requirements."
However, far from being a sustainable forestry operation worthy of an FSC certifcate, it later transpires (see article below from Noriegaville) that the company is a front for a financial scam which has been banned from trading in some of the world's major financial centres...[Continue]
The following article by Philippe Chibani-Jacquot first appeared on novethic.fr, in October, 2006 (*)
The decision to maintain the FSC label awarded to the first certified concession in Central Africa continues to make waves among environmentalists. The certification gained by the Wijma-Douala company is encouraging other companies to commence the same process.
Since December 2005, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a sustainable forest management label, has been facing criticism from the Cameroon NGO, the Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED/Centre for the Environment and Development), Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth-France...[Continue]
By Chris Lang. Published in WRM Bulletin 110, September 2006.
When a forestry operation is certified under the Forest Stewardship Council system, it should mean we can all relax in the knowledge that the forests are reasonably well managed. Unfortunately, it seems, this is not the case. SmartWood, an FSC accredited certifier, recently forestry operations forestry operations in Laos which are producing timber that is illegal under the Lao Forestry Law...[Continue]