An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

The Orwellian world of FSC, plantations and 'Motion 18'Tags: Plantations

Orwellian: (Pertaining to the author, George Orwell) "Connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" - a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments."

Last week, we reported on a move by some of the FSC's members to reconsider the prohibition on the certification of plantations that have been established on former forest land that has been cleared later than 1994...[Continue]

Things not improving in Rio Platano, Honduras - more questions for Rainforest Alliance and FSCTags: Honduras, Legality, Certifier conflict of interest, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Last week saw the distressing announcement by UNESCO that the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve had been put back on the organisation's 'In Danger' list, at the request of the Honduran government because, it said, of "the combined threats of illegal logging, fishing and land occupation, poaching and the reduced capacity of the State to manage the site". Covering 500,000 hectares, and being one of Central America's most important protected areas, Rio Platano has also gained fame as being a source of mahogany used in the manufacture of Gibson guitars...[Continue]

CIB - FSC certified forests in Congo to be felled for palm oil plantations?Tags: Congo, Tropical Forest Trust, SGS Qualifor

In a recent posting, we reported on the sale of FSC's flagship certified logging company in Africa, Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB), to the Singapore-based Olam Group, which describes itself as a "global leader in agricultural products and food ingredients". Amongst Olam's activities elsewhere in the world is production and processing of palm oil, so it came as little surprise to some when the company recently indicated, only five months after acquiring CIB's massive forest assets in northern Congo, that it was interesting in 'diversifying' CIB's production to include various crops such as palm oil, cacao and soya...[Continue]

FSC responds to departure of FERN; Secretariat still in self-denialTags: Carbon offsets

The FSC Secretariat has issued a response to the resignation of important NGO member, FERN, which FSC-Watch reported recently. Whilst the statement naturally tries to play down the significance of FERN's departure (and pretends that FERN had no concerns about the organisation other than on carbon certification, which it knows to be untrue), it reveals just how firmly in self-denial the FSC remains.

FSC's statement justifies its drift towards involvement in forest carbon certification by saying that "FSC's principal role in climate mitigation frameworks would be to ensure that the management, monitoring and monetization of forest carbon resources do not come at the expense of people's rights or the environment"...[Continue]

FSC's proposed change of rules on plantations "may be hard-to-stomach"Tags: Plantations, Greenpeace

A revealing article posted by leading website on rainforest issues, mongabay.com raises concerns about proposed changes to FSC's rules, which threaten to open up the flood gates of FSC certification of plantations which have recently been established on former areas of natural forests. At present, FSC prohibits certification of plantations that are on land cleared of forest after 1994.

According to Mongabay, the original proposer of the motion was Daemeter Consulting, a spokesperson for which states that "As a member and strong supporter of FSC, we believe the organization needs to take a pragmatic approach to ensure it maintains an ability to influence the conversion [of natural forests to plantations] process"...[Continue]

SIFORCO in DR Congo: nice certificates, shame about the arrests, beatings, burning and rapesTags: Democratic Republic of Congo, Controlled wood, Mixed sources labelling, SGS Qualifor, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Certification in any of the countries in the Congo Basin was always going to stretch the credibility of the FSC system to the limit - as the miserable experiences in Cameroon of companies such as SEFAC and Wijma have shown (the former of which remains 'suspended' for forest management but, illogically, still certified for Chain of Custody). Sadly, because the FSC is unable to control its certifiers, these lessons seem not to have been learned; allowing its certifiers to issue certificates in DR Congo was always bound to end in disaster...[Continue]

CIB - FSC's great African embarrassmentTags: Congo, Tropical Forest Trust, Certifier conflict of interest, SGS Qualifor, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

Nothing encapsulates the dismal weaknesses of the FSC system quite as well as the case of Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) - which for many years has been FSC's flagship certified logging operation in Africa.

Much has been written about CIB, which has been one of the most controversial logging operations anywhere in the tropics. Critics have questioned whether the company should qualify for certification right across the sweep of FSC's requirements - its environmental and social impact, and its economic sustainability. Now it seems that its claim to sustainability in all three areas has unravelled, raising further serious questions about how the company could ever have been certified in the first place...[Continue]

FSC allows continued slaughter of wild baboons in South African plantationsTags: South Africa, Complaints procedures

The following press release has been issed by South Africa-based NGO, Geasphere

The decision by the FSC Complaints Panel not to uphold the complaint against the mass slaughter of wildlife in certified plantations in South Africa appears to mean that the FSC's complaint procedure, though recently revised, maintains its 100% record of never having resulted in the cancellation of a certificate as a result of a formal complaint.

In response to yet another whitewashing job by the FSC Complaints Process, Geasphere has written a letter to the FSC setting out in detail why the process was seriously flawed - both in terms of the specifics of this case as well as general failures of the complaints procedures...[Continue]

FERN quits FSC over moves to certify carbon offsetsTags: Worldwide, Carbon offsets

In a further serious blow to FSC's credibility, a long-term key NGO supporter of the organistion, FERN, has announced the resignation of its membership.

FERN's reports on forest certifcation, such as Behind the Logo and Footprints in the Forest helped to prop up the FSC's credibility for the last decade. They were often cited by holders of FSC certificates as proof of solid NGO support for the organisation.

Now FERN has quit because, it says, "FSC's increased involvement in forest carbon offsetting breached one of the thresholds for continued FERN membership"...[Continue]

FSC "Greenwashing" Forest Exploitation in AfricaTags: Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa

On the eve of its 2011 General Assembly, FSC is facing a barrage of criticism as a result of failing to deal with the multiple problems that it has been presented with over the last decade. The growing sense amongst members, and especially NGOs, is that time has run out. Another of FSC's key NGO supporters has already recently quit.

This is the first in a series of special postings that will appear in the run-up to the Assembly. The article originally appeared in "All Africa".

Hilaire Avril 8 June 2011

Paris - "Eco-label fatigue" is setting in as green logging certification schemes are undermining proper government management of forest resources while "greenwashing" private ownership of these public resources, critics say...[Continue]

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