FSC’s mysterious disappearing certificates, #1: Massachusetts state forests

FSC-Watch has several times in the last eighteen months reported on the FSC-certified ‘chainsaw massacre’ taking place in the state forest lands of Massachusetts, USA. Managed by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), 285,000 acreas of forest had been certified by California-based Scientific Certification Systems Inc (SCS) since 2004.

The Massachusetts DCR certificate ‘disappeared’ in April 2009, without any explanation from the FSC or the certifier. DCR Commissioner Richard Sullivan has claimed that there was simply a ‘gap’, in reissuing the certificate and that “because of the timing for the application for re-certification, it was known from the outset that the certification would lapse.”

However, a new report by local TV company The Boston Channel has raised further questions about why the Department of Conservation and Recreation (formerly the equally euphemistically-named Department of Environmental Management) was ever certified in the first place, and whether it would be re-certifiable.

The Boston Channel’s Team 5 investigative journalists focused on a plot of forest that had been granted to the state by the Zimmer family in memory of some of their relatives, on condition that it was permanently protected. Instead, the DCR felled it, and continued doing so even when requested by the Zimmer family to stop.

Disrespecting the dead: memorial forest trashed by ex-certified DCR.

In the report below, it is also pointed out that Massachusetts taxpayers paid up to $2 million for the certification. Because of FSC’s commercial confidentiality arrangements, it is not possible to know how much of this ended up in the pockets of FSC-accredited certifier SCS.

(Full report, with video clips, here)

State Betrays Family’s Trust, Cuts Down Trees: Massachusetts Admits Errors In Timber Harvests

One family’s trust has been betrayed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the state agency in charge of protecting forests and parks, Team 5 Investigates reported Friday.

NewsCenter 5’s Sean Kelly reported that DCR is finally admitting that it should not have harvested land for timber when it was given to the state for the sole purpose of public enjoyment.

Fifteen years ago, Raymond Zimmer donated a 30-acre lot in Chesterfield to the state of Massachusetts in memory of his late wife and three of their nine children who died earlier.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation began harvesting timber on the property earlier this year after a cutting plan was approved by town officials in Chesterfield.

Zimmer’s children told Team 5 their father never intended the property to be harvested for timber and point to language in the property deed that prohibits the removal or destruction of trees.

“I can state without reservation that the specific wish and intent of the trust donating the land was that the property was for public enjoyment in its natural condition,” said William Zimmer, Raymond Zimmer’s son.

But that’s not what Team 5 Investigates found happening. According to DCR, the state has already been paid $7,210 for the wood that has been cut down. “It shouldn’t have happened, it has happened and it’s a result of a complete lack of oversight and accountability in the Bureau of Forestry,” said Chris Matera of Massachusetts Forest Watch.

The family asked the state to stop all logging on the property, but it refused. DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan now concedes the state should not have logged the property. “We didn’t do it intentionally to not follow the wishes of the family. We’ll make sure going forward that that type of thing doesn’t happen on that property, or any other property,” Sullivan said.

This isn’t the first time DCR destroyed state parks and forests it was supposed to protect. Earlier this year, Team 5 Investigates found signs threatening prosecution for tree cutting were being ignored. Tombstones in a historical cemetery near Savoy State Forest were knocked over by the weight of falling timber, and healthy trees were slashed into thousands of debris covered acres.

All of the damage occurred while DCR claimed its forestry management practices were among the best in the nation.

The logging occurred under the watch of the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization that claims to promote the responsible management of forests.

Team 5 Investigates obtained an audit by auditors for FSC that shows the state has finally lost its FSC certification. “I’m not surprised the state lost its certification. Their logging was so bad, so egregious, I don’t see how they could have possibly kept it,” said Matera.

Taxpayers paid more than $2 million to qualify for that certification. Commissioner Richard Sullivan said the department will now do everything it can to get that certification back and make sure taxpayer money wasn’t wasted.

“Are you willing to admit now that mistakes were made?” asked Kelly. “Mistakes were made. I am interested in correcting the mistakes and moving forward and making sure they don’t happen again,” answered Sullivan.

The Commissioner’s response doesn’t satisfy critics who insist there’s no need to pay an international body to protect state forests because state laws are more than adequate.



  1. Both the MA state agencies and FSC are hiding the fact that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lost its certification in April 2009. The FSC US website still lists the Commonwealth of MA as having certified forests. (as of 11/28/09) The main state agency, EOEEA, has hidden the loss of certification within several green certification links one must follow to uncover the fact. Even when you reach the truth, EOEEA claims the loss was mainly a question of “interpretation of the Northeast Standard”. The state agency claims certification would be restored by the end of this past September, 2009. To date, 11/28/09 the state is not certified. The claim remains on the website.

  2. So what?

    The FSC website doesn’t list this certificate – and it is the definitive source of valid certificates.

    Anyone who wishes to check the validity of any FSC certificate has only one place to go:


    Other websites have no authority. Not even FSC national chapter websites.

    Having said that, FSC USA should have it’s house in order, and aggrieved parties should speak to them. You have a lot of clout against them as the certificate you mention isn’t on the FSC website. FSC in Bonn should also be spoken to.



  3. hi Marcetal,
    its not correct per law what You say. When their is an website from the FSC authorized to exist and they write something what is not in common with FSC, its the matter of FSC to do something against. They are responsable per LAW for the written page under the name of FSC! Maybe for the hugh transparancy of FSC its difficult to decide under which law (german or UN LAw, but in anycase, the FSC (here nobody know which FSC, The FSC A:C; the FSC International Center gGMBH , the ASI GmbH oder the FSC development GMBH,….). Noboday from outside can know and have the obligation to search which is “the onliest source”…. And for there are no impressum on the website of FSCus.org only a direct link to the FSC org page and a remark: Trademark 1996 forest stewardship Coucil A.C. (what is not correct as well like most what was writetn from FSC), FSC is full responsable. without any question. Otherwise must be written that this side in not authorized from the FSC. But this i see on very much FSC pages, its typicall. “Why we shall respect laws, we make our owm”….

  4. Sorry Gerriet.

    The FSC own the trademarks and are responsible for all uses of them.

    So anyone who uses the trademarks ‘FSC’ ‘Forest Stewardship Council’ and the tick and tree logo, should have the permission of FSC. One must assume that the FSC-USA is authorised by FSC in Bonn.

    Anyone from outside only has to go to the FSC website and look at the link ‘Find FSC products’

    If they are checking ‘per law’ and have a serious interest they will do their research properly. The FSC website link I mentioned covers the world.

    Many USA CoC entities will be sourcing timber from all over the world so the only place where certificates can be checked properly is the FSC website.

    The FSC-USA website (in my opinion) should not be uploading certificates – it is only causing confusion, and thus giving ammunition to the conspiracy theorists. Instead the FSC-USA website should only have a link to http://info.fsc.org/PublicCertificateSearch.

    My point – which you seem not to notice – is that Ridge 25 has the ammunition to chase FSC and FSC USA into doing things properly.

    But the bottom line is that http://info.fsc.org/PublicCertificateSearch is the only place to properly check certificates.



  5. Hi MArk,
    a) FSC A.C.! is owner of the trademark and Wordmark. not FSC gGMBH in Bonn. or ASI GmbH or somebody else.
    After my research till now in the EU and several other countries, i will get a sign in next week if in USA the FSC A.C. is owner too.
    2) FSC IC gGmbH Bonn is not the owner, maybe licended to use this Logo, nobody know.
    3) You mind about the law, and who is responsable is not correct, but this is just opened buy the FSC AC in a conflict with me going sure to a trial. There, after the trial, everybody will know about the structure of this fraudulent system.
    So You must take care, which FSC You mean, who is the FSC, You mean its the same, Bonn and Mexiko, but it isnt, someethink totally another!. And this is in hte respoinse of FSC AC for sure!
    4) You can use the logo of FSC without asking the FSC AC, but its regulated per Law and this is not just so easy to understand. When You make promoting for use of nuclear engery for example, this is not a violation…. more will follow by sure!.

  6. hi mark
    Sorry, but this is exactly the mistake what several people do!
    please show me the document where is written Your opinion! but indipendently from this opinioon:

    a) FSC.org (here: FSC A.C.) themselves don’t write clear that only the page of ASI is the only way to have legality response of a certificate. MAxbe all people want to think this, but this is another story; At the opposite Side:
    b) On the website of FSC.org is/was written, and in many official document too, that only the audits on the website on the akkreditors are valid (must be written in English or Spanish and the mother language of the certificate holder)(and what a stupid decision, don’t make any sense except hiding something. The certificate scheme on ASI website (fsc.info…) is like FSC write only for help and centralisation overview and seems no legal “Space” inside. (This means FSC!, not me)
    c) on the websites of the NIs isn’t written, that only the FSC ASI said is the legal check-
    d) Like I have written before, maybe my English is too bad. When for example FSC UK write, that a certificate is valid, and ASI write this certificate is not longer valid, then both “variant” have the same response in a legal trial! This is a big big different where FSC don’t take any care about.
    e) So at least: All is unclear, seem this is a trick of FSC (nobody can be so ighnorant about simple legal rules to respect), that it shall be hard to attac FSC per law (Whom, where……)

  7. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has terminated FSC certificate of “Terneyles” (Russia)

    According to Forest Stewardship Council (Russia) from January, 14th 2010г (Wood.ru), FSC certificate has been terminated for the largest timber industrial company JSC “Terneyles” in Primorski region(Russia). Indeed, action FSC of the certificate has been stopped in November 2009г. Confidential disappearances of FSC certificates in the World became the style of Forest Stewardship Council.

    Now, the largest Japanese corporation “Sumitomo Corporation” which owns 45 % of share of “Ternejles” receives forest products from not certificated wood (1.4 million hectares). The history with FSC certification of Ternejles has many riddles and is most mystery in certification of Forest Stewardship Council in World .

    Motivation for FSC certifForest Stewardship Council (FSC) has terminated FSC certificate of “Terneyles” (Russia)ications in 2004 for JSC “Terneyles” there was long-term pressure NGO,s upon the company, as breaking ecological principles of conducting a forestry. Having paid for FSC certificate in SGS company about 100 thousand dollars, JSC “Terneyles” became certificated company(with 1.4 mln. ha). But the auditor has given out the certificate with numerous essential conditions which company must be settled for a year. Within a year Ternejles has not fulfilled the requirements of the auditor, moreover has ignored performance of additional requirements of the standard. FSC certificate should is liquidated in 2005, on the basis of default by the company of several tens conditions of the standard. But Ternejles could agree with all players of this transaction, including FSC head office (Bonn). Audit FSC/ASI, conducting for JSC “Terneyles” and SGS remained secret till now. Anybody it is not known, how much cost precisely for Terneyles in order to keep FSC certificate in 2005 . But unlikely, it was only monetary resources. Helping, to realize mullions-strong nature protection projects for foreign organizations, it is possible to save enough means.

    It is improbable, that having such wide experience to settle affairs with Forest Stewardship Council , JSC Terneyles will not buy second FSC certificate. For the company with revenue about 50 million dollars the sum of 100 thousand dollars is not the big money. And «Sumitomo Corporation» will continue to tell to Japanese consumers fairy tales about origin of timber from good forests.

    FSC Russia


  8. For those who have followed the discussion for where we can find a reliable list of FSC certifcate holders, The FSC US website has
    1) removed the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
    2) added a warning to the top of each page where they list certificate holders:

    This is an unofficial list of FSC certificate holders.
    For the official list of all FSC certificate holders, please visit: http://info.fsc.org

    As of 1/22/10 Massachusetts is attempting to comply with Major corrective action requests to restore certification. These are primarily administrative: defining properties to be in the scope of a partial certification and demonstrating that monitoring per principle #8 is documented and available to the public. Other corrective actions (inappropriately classified as minor) related to forestry practices will not stand in the way of recertification, although many citizens of Massachusetts believe they should. Some are being appealed by the state agencies.

  9. This certification could NOT be renewed, since they could not comply with the major corrective actions requested. They tried to hide poor and hideous work on public lands, and got caught. This resulted in a citizen outrage and committee that discussed all this, and restricted greatly what and where they could cut on public lands. They did illegal (40 acres) clearcuts that were not justifiable except to generate timber. They destroyed several scenic areas, cut land donated with the provision that they couldnt cut on it, and even damaged an ancient cemetary. They will not be certified any time soon.

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