A little-known study that first appeared last year shows what some environmentalists have been saying for years - that most timber exploitation in the Amazon is not 'sustainable', and does not prevent deforestation but actually promotes it. The new findings will likely lead to calls for tighter controls or even complete prohibition on 'certification' of logging operations in such regions.
The study, entitled 'Condition and fate of logged forests in the Brazilian Amazon', which was published in August 2006 in the prestigious Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, is based on multi-year analysis of high resolution satellite data...[Continue]
One of the essential components of a credible certification scheme is that there must be some kind of mechanism such that stakeholders who dispute decisions about certification standards, specific certificates or other matters, can challenge them and seek redress. FSC's handling of complaints has been abysmal for many years, but now it seems to be in total disarray. Apart from anything else, FSC is probably not currently compliant with the requirements of ISEAL, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, to which the FSC is affiliated...[Continue]
Earlier this year, FSC-Watch reported on the curious circumstances surrounding the 'suspension' of Bureau Veritas's (BV) accreditation by FSC for, as yet unrevealed, problems with the certification of the Cameroonian rainforest logging company, Wijma. We now learn that, whilst Bureau Veritas remains prohibited from carrying out FSC certifications in Cameroon, it has just started the process of trying certify the massive logging operations of Rougier, in neighbouring Gabon...[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]
One of things that we at FSC-Watch worry about is that the FSC seems to have such a poor memory - so poor, in fact, that it keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. So, to help it along, we are issuing here a list of some of the questions we have asked over the last few months, and that have never been answered. And we have an important new question too.
In what sense is wood covered by the 'Controlled Wood Standard' actually 'controlled', and by whom?
When is a murder not 'violent'? (This is a 'trick' question, so we'll give you the answer: when it's got anything to do with a company that the Tropical Forest Trust is aiming to massage through the FSC certification process)...[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]
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]
Back in January, FSC-Watch reported that the largest FSC certified tropical logging operation (Barama, in Guyana) had had its certificate suspended. One of the interesting aspects of this was that WWF had been working closely with the company for some time, providing technical advice and helping the company to get its certificate. This was clearly an embarrassment for WWF, who had only 9 months earlier breathlessly exclaimed that the certificate was a "record-setting accomplishment for tropical forest conservation in South America"...[Continue]