The myth of sustainable FSC certified logging in Sweden is explored in a new article,Sweden’s Green Veneer Hides Unsustainable Logging Practices on Yale 360, by journalist and photographer, Erik Hoffner.
The article describes the growing consensus that the “Swedish model” of forestry is failing to protect biodiversity, and old growth forests continue to be clear-cut, including those with FSC certification. With 10 million hectares certified, or 45% of its total forest, Sweden has one of the largest areas of FSC certified logging.
But certification has failed to protect valuable wildlife habitat. As part of his report, Hoffner interviewed Daniel Rutschman of Protect the Forest and Malin Sahlin of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). In the short video below, they explain how FSC certified companies such as SCA get round FSC’s requirements not to log key areas of old growth habitats: they simply sell those areas to someone else.
SCA accounts for over two million hectares of FSC certified area in Sweden, under a certificate (opens pdf, 500kb) issued by SGS – whose certificates are already being challenged in at least three other countries.
Hoffner’s article ends with a quote from Lina Bergström of FSC Sweden: “I wish we could have more backbone” she says. “But big companies make mistakes. We are not a monitoring system, we are an improving system. It’s a slow process, but we’re getting there.”
The truth is that FSC has been issuing certificates in Sweden for well over a decade. The country’s tiny remaining fragments of old growth/high conservation value forest have continued to be trashed, including by FSC certified companies. If the FSC does not actually ‘monitor’ all this, then what exactly does it do? FSC is not supposed to be an ‘improving’ system, it is supposed to be a performance-based certification system.
Quite where Lina Bergström thinks FSC is “getting” is very open to question. All the evidence seems to suggest that, far from being an ‘improving system’, any improvements have now stalled and are going backwards. If the FSC proves to be too slow and too easily circumvented even in a relatively well-regulated country like Sweden, it bodes very poorly for the system in other more problematic parts of the world.
Photographs taken by Erik Hoffner showing the search for old growth characteristics in Sweden’s forests are available here.