‘Abstention Protest’ within FSC: Some Members refuse to vote for Board candidates

A growing number of FSC members feel increasingly uncomfortable with the organisation’s poor performance, indicated by numerous unacceptable certifications and lack of timely and effective action in solving problems. Some FSC members already sense that they are party to a ‘deception of consumers’ and have lost trust in the organisation that they have long supported as members. What can you do as member of an organisation that you believe has gone out of control? Leaving would be one choice. Some still believe in the original aims of the FSC, and they don’t want to leave the organisation. For some, the choice is to perform an ‘Abstention’ Protest: abstaining from voting in formal decisions, such as for the recent Board elections. But this is not a ‘silent protest’: it is important to let the FSC know why you are abstaining from voting.

The following message was sent by a member from ecuador (South).

Dear FSC,I have received the documents for the election of three FSC directory board members, Economic Chamber South and North.I would like to inform you that I will NOT vote for candidates in this election (please, find my election paper attached) because of the following reasons:From my point of view the FSC policy is not balanced and heavily influenced by the economic chamber, which is a structural problem of FSC. I believe that there should be NO economic chamber. I also disagree with the huge number of incorrect and/or fraudulent certifications of company operations, especially the certification of large scale industrial timber plantations (like Aracuz in Brazil) and the certification of large scale industrial operations in primary and community owned forests (like CIB in Congo).One personal example from Ecuador:I work in an indigenous organization which has tried to certify part of its ancestral territory under community forest management (low impact, low volume, no heavy machines) in Esmeraldas Province. The Scoping of Smartwood in 2001 and Formal Evaluation in 2002 by Smartwood resulted in the incredible and unjust list of 19 Preconditions and 36 Conditions for certification.In the meantime, the Ecuadorian plywood company Endesa-Botrosa has reached certification for 8.000 has of industrial timber plantations in Esmeraldas in 2006 (certifier GFA/RNT). Endesa-Botrosa is internationally known for having destroyed in its past 30 years of activity large parts of the primary forests of Esmeraldas Province (belonging to the Darien-Choco Biodiversity Hotspot), and having caused severe social problems to vulnerable ancestral Afro Ecuadorian, Indigenous Chachi, Epera, Awa and campesino communities, who own/have owned this forests.The certification of Endesa-Botrosa was given in spite of a formal and detailed complaint send by Acción Ecológica to GFA/RNT in June 2005 (published on the web sites of Acción Ecológica and WRM) and personal meetings with GFA/RNT held in Ecuador and Germany the same year.In summary, local ancestral indigenous people with long term and low impact community management of natural forests do not get certification, while a timber company with NO forest management and disastrous practices in natural community forests (from which they extract almost all timber used for production) get their environmentally and socially ruinous timber plantations certified (with at least parts of the land adquired under very controversial circumstances).This is unacceptable and also a fraud to the buyers/consumers of the certified timber. Something seems to go terribly wrong with FSC!Structural reform of FSC is neededA profound structural reform of FSC is necessary, especially regarding the existence of the economic chamber, the work and control of the certifiers, certification of industrial timber extraction in primary and community owned forest, and certification of large scale industrial timber plantations.Regarding selective timber logging in natural forests:An investigation recently published has again proved the disastrous impacts of selective industrial logging in the Brazilian Amazon (see Condition and fate of logged forests in the Brazilian Amazon).Finally, I’m thinking about resigning membership with FSC, which is the reason why I did not pay my membership fee for 2006 until now. I already renounced my membership in the national FSC initiative CEFOVE in Ecuador this August because of this reasons, as three other CEFOVE members also did.SincerelyFSC Member South


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