FSC-Watch

An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Gibson Guitars: where have all the fleas come from?Tags: USA, Controlled wood, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

In one of the political blogs still commenting on the US Fish and Wildlife Service's second raid on Gibson Guitars for possible contraventions of the Lacey Act, Republican pundit Andrew M. Langer, berating Gibson for "consorting with environmentalists", refers to an old saying that "if you lie down with dogs be prepared to get up with fleas"...[Continue]

Gibson Guitars fiasco raises new questions about integrity of Rainforest AllianceTags: USA, Legality, Tropical Forest Trust, Controlled wood, Rainforest Alliance SmartWood

The raiding of Gibson Guitars in Tennessee in August by US Federal Fish and Wildlife officials for suspected violations of the Lacey Act - which forbids US companies from importing wood obtained from illegal sources - has once again cast a very hard light on the FSC system, and in particular on the Rainforest Alliance, whose SmartWood scheme is the FSC's most prolific issuer of FSC certificates. An October 2nd article (which we reproduce in full below), published in the 'Tennessean' newspaper, has opened new revelations about the relationship between Gibson and the Alliance, which sound loud alarm bells about the 'independence' of the certifier...[Continue]

FSC's Chain of Custody system: "potential for misleading, false or fraudulent claims is very real"Tags: Worldwide, Chain of Custody

FSC-Watch has received the following posting from a correspondent with "fifteen years' experience as an auditor of FSC systems". Like many people who have worked within the FSC system, and know first-hand the kinds of problems pointed out repeatedly on FSC-Watch, the contributor wishes to make their views known anonymously.

The contribution starts by pointing out, rightly, that the Chain of Custody system is something to which FSC-Watch has paid little attention over the last four years. The problem is simply that the CoC system is so opaque that there is almost no information available to analyse or on which to comment...[Continue]

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]

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