FSC’s proposed change of rules on plantations “may be hard-to-stomach”

A revealing article posted by leading website on rainforest issues, mongabay.com raises concerns about proposed changes to FSC’s rules, which threaten to open up the flood gates of FSC certification of plantations which have recently been established on former areas of natural forests. At present, FSC prohibits certification of plantations that are on land cleared of forest after 1994.

According to Mongabay, the original proposer of the motion was Daemeter Consulting, a spokesperson for which states that “As a member and strong supporter of FSC, we believe the organization needs to take a pragmatic approach to ensure it maintains an ability to influence the conversion [of natural forests to plantations] process”. They acknowledge that the proposed changes “may be hard-to-stomach for some”.

In the article, Darius Sashar, one of the early architects of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network, but now working for investment firm New Forests, and a proponent of the proposed changes, warns against FSC “bending too far to environmental purity”. He dismisses concerns of environmentalists worldwide about the impact of industrial plantations as representing a “Darth Vader” approach to forest conservation.

Destruction of forest for APP plantations in Sumatra – soon to be FSC certifiable?

Grant Rosoman of Greenpeace New Zealand, a former Chair of FSC, has seconded the motion. However, in the Mongabay article, he appears to dissociate himself from the proposed changes to FSC’s rules, saying, according to Mongabay, that he would not necessarily support the motion as written. It is not clear to FSC-Watch.org how someone who should be so familiar with the FSC’s procedures could be listed in FSC’s offical documentation as seconding a motion whch he does not support.

The motion is also supported by companies that have been heavily criticised for being implicated in forest destruction – including Kimberley-Clark, a target for a major Greenpeace boycott campaign in 2009, which was dropped when the company agreed to increase its use of FSC certified products.

As Mongabay notes, whether or not all of this happens depends on the vote of FSC’s current three-yearly General Assembly of members – a decision that will happen today. FSC-Watch will report on the outcome.

The full text of the proposed motion, with it’s proposers and seconders is available here.

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