‘Low quality’ SGS targetted in Greenpeace protest campaign

As previously reported on FSC-Watch, the certification of the Spanish industrial plantation company, NORFOR, has caused widespread concern, which a recent FSC inspection of the company’s certifier, SGS, has only served to heighten. Despite finding clear non-compliances with FSC’s Principles and Criteria, the certificate remains in place.

Greenpeace Spain has now launched a letter-writing campaign against SGS, asking the certifier to “stop damaging the good name of the FSC start an in-depth review towards improving the professional quality of your audits, evaluation methodology and, especially, the company’s ethical code.” The ‘cyber-action’ campaign, in both Spanish and English, also cites other SGS controversial certificates, including in Guyana and Poland.

Dear online activist,

The FSC, the forest certification system founded in 1993 and supported by environmental organizations, is having problems. We need your help to defend that FSC is the best way to ensure that the consumer forest products you buy come from environmentally and socially responsible sources. It is not a perfect system, but Greenpeace is actively working within the FSC system to improve performance, resolve problems, and maintain the integrity of the FSC.

SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), a principal auditing company involved in inspection, verification, monitoring and certification services, is harming the credibility and good standing of the FSC by issuing certificates to companies which do not carry out responsible forest management. Last year, SGS tarnished FSC’s reputation by granting certificates inappropriately in Guyana and Poland. In Spain, the certification of eucalyptus plantations owned by the company NORFOR in Galicia, Sturias and Cantabria, again proves SGS’s inconsistent and low quality auditing performance. The FSC International Accreditation Service has acknowledged the environmental movement’s concern over this issue and confirmed that SGS has made many mistakes, some of them very serious, during its auditing.

Greenpeace Spain explains that protest letters will be sent to the President of SGS and the staff responsible for FSC certificates. A sample letter follows:

Dear Mr./Ms.

I would like to express my protest against the damage SGS is causing to the credibility and good standing of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system, the system supported by the majority of civil society.

Last year, the poor quality of auditing in Guyana and Poland lead to SGS being warned against issuing certificates to companies whose forest management did not meet the requirements set by the FSC. In Spain, the certification of eucalyptus plantations owned by the company NORFOR in Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria again proves the low quality work of SGS. The FSC International Accreditation Service has acknowledged the environmental movement’s concern over this issue and has confirmed that SGS has made many mistakes, some of them very serious, during its auditing.

Your company prides its reputation on acting with quality, independence and impartiality. However, the facts demonstrate that this statement is just an empty slogan.

I ask you to stop damaging the good name of the FSC and I suggest that you start an in-depth review towards improving the professional quality of your audits, evaluation methodology and, especially, the company’s ethical code.

Sincerely,

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