Why does FSC allow the Massachusetts Chainsaw Massacre to remain certified?

FSC is coming in for some serious criticism in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Forest Watch produced a 50-page report detailing the damage that logging is doing to State forests.

Subsequently, the Boston Channel’s Team 5 Investigates produced a video explaining how the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which is supposed to protect forests, is actually cutting them down. Click on the image below to watch the video:

The transcript is available here.

The Massachusetts State forests were certified by SCS in 2004. As FSC-Watch pointed out almost a year ago, the certification was issued in breach of FSC’s rules.

On the programme, the Boston Channel’s journalist, Sean Kelly, interviews James McCaffrey of the Sierra Club:

James McCaffrey at the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club said it’s clear that some of those rules have been broken. “It does not look good. It looks like there are some problematic cuts and it looks like DCR [the Department of Conservation and Recreation] has a lot of work to do if they’re going to set an example,” said McCaffrey.

McCaffrey said the Forest Stewardship Council also has a lot of work to do if it wants to set an example. However, despite those concerns, the Sierra Club has not called for a halt on the cutting.

“Why haven’t environmental groups thrown up a big red flag to what’s been happening?” asked Kelly. “Because us having declared our support for FSC at this time makes it difficult for us to turn around and say you know we don’t support it anymore,” answered McCaffrey.

So, the Sierra Club can do nothing about the destruction of State forests in Massachusetts because it’s certified by FSC. FSC has become what the loggers wanted it to be all along – greenwash. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for the Sierra Club to question whether supporting FSC means that it is impossible to criticise FSC. And if so, then perhaps they should consider leaving FSC in order to do something about this:

Windsor State Forest, Schoolhouse Road near Windsor Jambs Natural Area, 2008.

Windsor Jambs State Park, 2008.

Savoy State Forest, “Shelterwood Logging” New State Road, 2008.

What is certain is that if FSC certification is to mean anything other than a rubber stamp for business as usual for the logging industry, it is time for FSC to withdraw this certificate. Clearly it should never have been issued in the first place. Then FSC should withdraw SCS’s permission to issue certificates. Unfortunately, none of this seems likely to happen: “A spokesperson for FSC told Team 5 Investigates it’s confident that the state is in compliance with its standards.” So that’s all right, then.



  1. A very interesting clip however facts are missing on both sides.

    As a land owner we know we have to pay the Certification Body wheter we achieve certification or not. A contract is signed before auditors set their feet on the land. Non payment of this contravenes Principle 1.2.

    What are the procedures for the local stewardship programme and where is the compliance……..
    Graves being overturned contravenes P3.3

  2. FSC is a rubber stamp that big environmental NGO’s are too embarrassed to criticize. Perhaps these groups would respond to people canceling their memberships. Who wants to be part of a group that gives their blessing to this kind of destruction?

  3. I wish you could see all of this first hand. We have had pristine remote ponds damaged, vernal pools damaged, and other fine work done. The response: “there is nothing wrong with the work”. SCS was sent documentation of the violations and dumped them right back to the reporters and did nothing. What good does this program do for the citizens and the public lands being pillaged?

    The response to the gravestone incident: “those were blown down by the wind”. I guess the wind sawed them up and clearcut right to the edge of the historic graveyard as well…..

  4. The end of the first 5 year period of certification of MA public lands is coming to a close in April 2009. Without any public process, the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has applied for recertification. A large citizens’ group (this is not a few tree huggers) have compiled a list of principles and criteria of the New England Standard, with which the state is not in compliance. The list is LONG. There are violations of state laws and regulations (Principle 1). The state is still cutting on properties without any kind of management plan, in total violation of Principle 7. High Conservation Value Forests are not designated. (Principle 9) Assessments of environmental impact are not being done because there are no comprehensive biological surveys and management plans, and all of the promised acreage in reserves has not yet been designated. (Principle 6) But most important to us are the social values of these lands…ignored… Principle 4. How can SCS say the state is in compliance? This is one big mess.

  5. After much experience in the woods industry I felt that this portrayal of loggers and logging in the state showed an unqualified and uneducated look into the profession. Anything can be manipulated to appear a certain way and that is precisely what this report does. If society would like to continue this downward spiral of our economy we can just continue to look to foreign nations, with few to no regulations governing worker safety, the environmental impact and who are in direct competition with an already highly regulated American logging industry, to provide the raw materials needed to drive our housing and many other necessary commodities…like toilet paper!

  6. I do believe that at least one clear cut you picture in the chainsaw massacre was done after many requests from environmental groups. They were clearcut because they were plantations and therefore non-native. Seems a little hypocritical to me when these were done to try and pacify the same groups who then use the pics as propaganda against the responsible forest harvesting that takes place here in new england

  7. Dear David, a compliance is loyalty of a auditor wich depend on your payment. This was checked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s