FSC crisis grows as major Swedish NGO withdraws

One of FSC’s long-term NGO supporters, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation(SSNC), has said that it will immediately withdraw from the national FSC initiative, noting that “forest certification not good enough”. The announcement yesterday from Sweden will be another major blow to FSC: at nearly 11 million hectares, the country has the third largest certified area, after Canada and Russia. Following SSNC’s observation that the Swedish FSC standard “is weak [and] the lack of observance is substantial”, the credibility of more than 10 per cent of FSC’s global total is now called into question. SSNC was closely involved in the establishment of FSC-Sweden and the drafting of the national standard.

With further NGO withdrawals expected soon, FSC-Watch believes that time is fast running out for the FSC. Whilst the organisation continues to inflate its global certification ‘portfolio’ towards the 100 million hectares mark, a growing proportion is clearly non-compliant with the FSC’s Principles and Criteria – and its credibility continues to plummet.

Statement issued by SSNC follows:

SSNC leaves Board of FSC Sweden: “Forest certification not good enough”

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) has decided to leave the Board of FSC Sweden. The decision, to be effected immediately, came after an investigation about FSC and the role of SSNC in the forest certification organization.

“FSC functions badly in Sweden. The standard is weak, the lack of observance is substantial and the forest companies will to improve FSC is weak. As the Swedish government currently cuts down the money allocated for nature conservation and lowers the environmental ambitions of their policy, we make new prioritisations in the forest area”, Mikael Karlsson, President of SSNC says.

SSNC initiated Sweden’s first FSC standard in the mid 90’s. Since then the organisation has invested large resources in working with FSC. For the time being, SSNC remains a member of FSC Sweden in order to influence FSC from the inside.

“When leaving the Board we liberate resources for reviewing the forestry. This is important as the legislation regarding nature considerations too often is omitted by the forestry sector. However, large companies such as SCA are even less observing the FSC standard, which their customers would expect”, Mikael Karlsson, President of SSNC says.

For a long time SSNC has pointed out a number of areas where FSC needs sharpening. Examples are: deficient conservation levels, relations between certifiers and the forest companies, insufficient possibilities for sanctions and the poor influence of local populations.

“The environmental level of FSC is somewhat higher than the legislation, unfortunately that is rather a proof of the weakness of the latter than a strength of FSC. We will continue to influence FSC in Sweden and internationally, aiming to improve the system”, Jonas Rudberg, Forest campaigner and SSNC’s representative in the FSC Board until now, says.

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