Last week at Manchester Magistrates Court a timber company called Hardwood Dimensions (Holdings) Ltd was found to be in breach of regulations prohibiting the import and sale of illegally harvested timber.
In November 2015, WWF Germany filed a formal complaint with FSC against the Austrian-based company Holzindustrie Schweighofer – the largest forest products company in Romania. The complaint followed a series of undercover investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency and an article in Germany’s Spiegel magazine.
“Based on a review of 40 studies, we found that certified tropical forests are overall better for the environment than forests managed conventionally.”
But the conclusion is based far more on wishful thinking than on any scientific evidence. The opening line of the article was amended within a week of being posted to include the words “of variable quality”.
Yesterday, at the FSC General Assembly in Vancouver, FSC members voted in favour of a motion to scrap the ban on the certifying plantations that were established on forests cleared after 1994.
The Forest Stewardship Council standard for Sweden “allows forests to be converted into tree plantations, through the use of clear-cut logging, soil scarification (ridging) and chemical fertilisation”, writes Amanda Tas of Protect the Forest in a recent piece on the Plantation Definition Discussion website.
Two-thirds of the last old-growth forests in Europe are in Romania. Unfortunately, Romania’s forests are under threat from rampant illegal logging. And by failing to kick out companies involved in this illegal logging, the Forest Stewardship Council is complicit in this destruction.
Green Resources’ industrial tree plantations in Uganda continue to cause problems for local communities. Whenever journalists or academics document the problems, the company points out that its plantations are FSC-certified.
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…)
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…)