Key German NGO quits FSC in disgust at plantation certifications

Another long-standing European NGO member of FSC has announced its intention to withdraw its membership of the organisation in protest at what it sees as FSC’s failure to prevent the certification of non-compliant companies. The Hamburg-based Robin Wood has been a member of FSC for 12 years. The group says in a statement issued on March 16th that it will continue working with the German national FSC group, but will end cooperation with FSC international. As with a growing number of NGOs, Robin Wood acknowledges that FSC is ‘the most credible’ forest certification system – but seemingly no longer credible enough to be associated with.

Declaration on the withdrawal of ROBIN WOOD e.V. from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-International)

After more than 12 years of active and vital co-operation, ROBIN WOOD has terminated its membership of FSC International and will concentrate in future on its partnership with and membership of the German FSC’s workgroup.

The reasons for this decision included FSC’s policy of certifying large-scale plantations. Numerous industrial monocultures in the countries of the global south – e.g. Brazil, Uruguay, and South Africa – have earned the FSC seal, although – in the view of ROBIN WOOD – these can-not be managed in ways that are either ecologically compatible or socially just.

Given the size and growing global importance of FSC, discussions and decision-making processes on critical issues – e.g. plantation policy – are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to coordinate. For ROBIN WOOD the workload involved in supporting and influencing developments and decision-making processes can no longer be managed satisfactorily, responsibly and credibly.

Nevertheless, the positive influence of FSC on the area of forest management can be documented with many examples. Despite all the justified criticism, FSC is the most credible certification system on the market. With its ecological and social minimum standards, FSC is clearly ahead of the certification systems (e.g. the PEFC), that unilaterally serve the interests of the timber industry.

ROBIN WOOD will continue to assist and support the evolution of FSC International – in cooperation with NGOs inside and outside of FSC.

This decision was taken at a joint meeting of ROBIN WOOD’s working groups on tropical forests and forests. The meeting was held at the castle Burg Ludwigstein/Witzenhausen on 24 January 2009.

Peter Gerhardt, responsible for tropical forests
Rudolf Fenner, responsible for forests



  1. You focused on trees haversting but, from the printer´s side, do you have received positive results along these 20 years of collaboration with FSC? How many printers in Germany are printing the FSC logo in their publications? You see, Tetra Pak are printig their worldwide 20.0000 million cartons with the FSC logo, then, they must have a reason…..
    Would love to learn more about your decision to quit the FSC…
    Andino (From Barcelona)

  2. FSC has been down the drain now for some time. Allowing Tetra Pak, a non-recyclable material, (you can read that on their own site even) to advertise with the watered down ambiguos “mix” label already was the deathblow for me.

    Cerificates for Russia and China, ironically not worth the paper they are printed on, just icing on the cake.

    Good on ROBIN WOOD to leave. I would be curious to know how one of the few real certificates was subverted by the industry.

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