Jari certificate suspension: why was it ever certified in the first place?

On December 8th, FSC Brazil announced that the certificate of the country’s largest certified forestry operation, Jari, had been suspended following raids on companies suspected of massive fraud and laundering of illegal timber. Such certificate suspensions or terminations usually provoke claims from FSC’s supporters and apologists that “this shows that the system is working” – because unworthy companies are losing their endorsement. More often, however, it merely raises questions as to how the company was ever certified in the first place, and how it maintained its certificate for often many years despite there being clear problems. Jari is  certainly one of these cases. Inevitably, it also raises serious questions about the ability of the FSC to properly control the work of the certification companies  – and whether wood-users were misled about the acceptability of the company’s certified products in the mean time. (more…)

FSC’s flagship African logger, CIB-Olam, needs World Bank subsidy – to start farming in its concessions

One of Africa’s biggest, longest-standing and most controversial FSC certified logger, Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB), has appeared regularly on FSC-Watch. Praised by the likes of Scott Poynton of TFT, CIB’s boosters have consistently ignored the growing evidence for what is now becoming grimly apparent; that the company’s timber production is fundamentally unsustainable, and will likely eventually lead to widespread destruction of some of the Congo Basin’s most valuable forests. The evidence grew stronger this month, with news that the World Bank has stepped in to provide funding to increase the company’s agricultural production. (more…)

Another Smartwood FSC certificate embarrassment as Peruvian authorities make record raid on illegal timber ops

On November 24th, according to a report in the Peruvian newspaper La Republica, police raided the docks in the Amazon port of Iquitos, confiscating the equivalent of 60 heavy truck-loads of timber. The wood, worth around $0.5m,  was bound for Mexico and the US – and reportedly 80% of it was owned by the FSC certified company, Inversiones La Oroza SRL. (Posting amended 10/12/15)

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Corruption scandal: Eucalyptus Fibre Congo accused of paying “black money” in the Republic of Congo, while it was FSC certified

A company called Eucalyptus Fibre Congo S.A. is alleged to have paid at least US$76,500 in “black money” to Congolese public officials in 2012. At the time, the company held an FSC chain of custody certificate.

Three weeks ago, Arnaud Labrousse sent an email to Kim Carstensen, FSC’s Director General. Labrousse has a few questions for FSC. Unfortunately, FSC seems reluctant to answer them.

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Will FSC ever kick out Suzano over GE trees?

On 9 April 2015, Brazil’s Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) approved the commercial use of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees. The application came from FuturaGene, a company owned by pulp and paper giant Suzano.

Suzano’s plantations are FSC-certified. Estevão do Prado Braga, who works for Suzano, is a member of FSC’s Board.

Yet FSC’s Policy of Association does not allow FSC to associate with companies that introduce genetically modified organisms into forestry operations.

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How did DLH, a company trading illegal timber from Liberia, get FSC certification?

In February 2015, the Forest Stewardship Council announced that it was kicking out Danish timber giant Dalhoff Larsen and Horneman (DLH). FSC did so after investigations by Global Witness revealed that DLH had traded illegal timber from Liberia.

But how did a company trading illegal timber get FSC certification in the first place?

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Open Letter to FSC Board Calling on FSC to Dissociate from Suzano

FSC has a policy of association under which, “Introduction of genetically modified organisms in forestry operations” is not acceptable.

In 2010, Suzano bought biotechnology company FuturaGene. In January 2014, FuturaGene applied to Brazil’s National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) for approval to plant GE trees on a commercial scale.

In June 2014, FSC-Watch reported that Brazilian company Suzano was planning to use genetically engineered trees in its plantations, and asked whether FSC would therefore dissociate from Suzano, in accordance with its policy of association.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees recently wrote to FSC, calling on FSC to dissociate from Suzano.

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Chain of Custody – failures could “cause FSC to break down altogether”

Last month, we reported on how FSC’s former  Executive Director, Andre de Freitas, had raised serious doubts about the FSC’s Chain of Custody (CoC) certification mechanism, describing it as a “myth”. Now a new and, for the FSC, more worrying voice has been added to those expressing concern about the integrity of CoC certificates; that of NEPCon, one of FSC’s accredited certifiers.

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Greenpeace loses the plot: Motion 65 shambles, and an ugly failure to protect ‘intact forests’

Motion 65 to the FSC’s General Assembly, its highest decision-making authority, was tabled by Judy Rodrigues of Greenpeace International. The motion was intended to set out new requirements for the FSC when certifying logging companies in what Greenpeace describes as ‘intact forest landscapes’ (or IFLs). These are important large areas of forest which remain undamaged, and are rapidly declining and being fragmented – often by commercial logging – the world over. Greenpeace rightly wishes to see these forests better protected – but has failed to prevent the FSC from legitimising their destruction.

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