In a shock announcement, South Africa-based SGS Qualifor – FSC’s second largest certifier – has said that it has taken a ‘business decision’ not to issue any further FSC forest management certificates, pending a ‘review’ of it’s forest management certification processes. The announcement, made on the FSC’s website, is believed to pre-empt an imminent decision by the FSC Secretariat to formally suspend SGS’s accreditation worldwide. SGS has recently been forced to withdraw several non-compliant certificates, including in Guyana and Spain, following damning assessments by FSC’s Accreditation Services International; in April this year, the certifier was also banned from all certification activities in Poland.
FSC-Watch believes this is good news for the FSC, as it reduces by one the number of major certifiers that are wrecking FSC’s credibility by issuing certificates to non-compliant companies. We urge the FSC to confirm SGS’s decision by formally and indefinitely suspending the certifier’s accreditation, along with all its certificates, including those for Chain of Custody, which are not included in SGS’s self-imposed ‘moratorium’. Similar moves should be started against the other major certifiers which have brought discredit to the FSC system. FSC can then get on unimpeded with the all-important job of changing the way that contracts are issued for certification assessments, in order to give the FSC greater control, and breaking the direct economic link between the certification bodies and the ‘client’ timber companies seeking certification.