For only the second time in its 13-year history, the FSC has suspended the accreditation of one of its certifiers.
However, as with most of FSC's dealings with the certifiers, the reasons for the suspension of the Swiss based Institut für Marktökologie (IMO), on 22nd September, are not entirely clear. All that the FSC Secretariat has said is that the decision was taken against IMO "for performing new evaluations and issuing new FSC forest management certificates in Chile" - and even this information was buried in an unassuming document on FSC's website...[Continue]
When Soil Association WoodMark re-certified the 10,000 hectares of Masarykův les Křtiny (ŠLP), a State-owned forest in the Czech Republic in 2004 (which had first been certified in 1997), one of the notable features of the Public Summary report was the number of times in which the phrase “to be implemented immediately on certification” was used in relation to the numerous Corrective Action Requests issued. In other words, SLP had not actually achieved whatever standards WoodMark used to assess them (there was no national FSC Standard in the Czech Republic at the time of the assessment), but would hopefully achieve them afterwards...[Continue]
Some readers of FSC-Watch will no doubt have been surprised to learn that the UK-based NGO Soil Association has, through it's subsidiary certification body WoodMark, started the process of certifying parts of the notorious Indonesian plantation company Perhutani.
More surprising still, perhaps, is the news that WWF has also been collaborating with Perhutani, which stands accused of gross human rights violations. WWF recently allowed Perhutani to join the prestigious Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) - though WWF have not disclosed how much money Perhutani have paid for this privilege...[Continue]
In September 2006, WWF and the large German tropical logging company Danzer issued the joint press release below, announcing Danzer’s intention to obtain FSC certification. The announcement stated that Danzer’s operations in the Republic of Congo were ‘scheduled’ to be certified in 2008, whilst the larger concessions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be certified in 2010.
This is curious for several reasons. Firstly, it assumes that Danzer’s compliance with the FSC’s Principles and Criteria is a foregone conclusion, and merely a matter of ‘scheduling’ the certification...[Continue]
Arguably, the National Initiatives (NIs) have been amongst the most successful parts of the FSC ‘project’: some NIs have genuinely brought together disparate interests to find acceptable compromises, which have allowed for national or regional standards to be developed. These national standards are a key element in ensuring that what the FSC’s accredited certifiers certify is acceptable to local ‘stakeholders’.
But this has not always been the case. One of FSC’s larger and most controversial certificates – that of Coillte in Ireland – was issued under a draft national standard which in turn had been produced by a dysfunctional national initiative, the Irish Forest Certification Initiative (IFCI)...[Continue]
Last month, FSC-Watch reported on the ‘race to the bottom’ of FSC standards for certification of the Presov Forest District in Slovakia.
The race has now been run, and the certificate – which was withdrawn only a few weeks ago by Soil Association WoodMark - has now been ‘re-awarded’ by SGS. One representative of the Slovak environmental movement has said that they are ‘sickened’ by this development, and have dismissed the certificate as “nothing but greenwashing”...[Continue]
The Soil Association's FSC-accredited certifier WoodMark has just announced a 'stakeholder consultation' for the potential certification of two management units of the huge Indonesian plantation company, Perhutani.
Many people, not least members of the FSC who care about the organisation's reputation, will probably be somewhat surprised about this: the very same Perhutani management units were amongst those that had their FSC certificates 'suspended' (and evidently completely withdrawn) by SmartWood in August 2001...[Continue]
The following was submitted by the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance
Embargo until: 00.01am Monday the 27th of November 2006
An alliance of environmental and social groups from Ireland today sent a detailed and powerful rebuttal of the environmental certification of Coillte, Ireland's largest forestry company, to the Lord Peter Melchett and the Board of the Soil Association, who are responsible for the certificate.
In the rebuttal, the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance (IESS) slams Irish state forestry company Coillte's record on the environment and social issues...[Continue]
One the major structural problems that seems to underlie much of what is going wrong in the FSC is that contracts for certification assessments are arranged directly between logging companies and the FSC's accredited certifiers. Because of this - and especially because the award of a certificate will ensure future profits for the certifiers from monitoring and re-assessments - certifiers have a strong financial incentive to award certificates even when the logging company does not comply with the FSC's Principles and Criteria.
Another consequence is that certifiers are effectively competing with each other to show that they are the most likely to award a certificate - and the way that they do this is by lowering their assessment standards, 'turning a blind eye' to any major problems that they find, or taking a very 'sympathetic' view towards the company under scrutiny...[Continue]
The following Open Letter to David Nahwegahbow, Chair of the Forest Stewardship Council, has been submitted by Philip Owen of Geasphere .
Re: Certification of Industrial Timber Plantations in South Africa
Dear Mr. David Nahwegahbow
I look to you for guidance and advice. I represent a organization opposed to the further expansion of Industrial Timber Plantations (ITP's)in Southern Africa and elsewhere.
We firmly believe that ITP's comes at a massive cost to the natural and social environment, and that these costs have not been quantified...[Continue]