FSC commits “major blunder” by certifying clearcutting in California’s redwoods

On 11 February 2013, Green Diamond Resource Company announced that it had received FSC certification. Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, Executive Vice President of SCS announced that,

“Green Diamond Resource Company has undergone a lengthy and rigorous assessment of its forest management practices, broadly defined, and have demonstrated a level of conformance to the FSC Standard that merits award of certification.”

EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center) disagrees with SCS’s assessment. “The award of FSC certification to Green Diamond has very serious implications for the future of the Redwood Temperate Rainforest, and suggests an unraveling of credible forest management certification processes,” EPIC writes in a reaction to the certification on its website.

In June 2012, EPIC put out an Action Alert in which they pointed out that many questions arise over the FSC certification. EPIC lists the following problems:

“Green Diamond’s aggressive clearcut logging, their legacy of toxic pollution, their decades long history of antagonistic relationships with local communities and civil society organizations, and their corporate culture of greenwash, impunity, and lack of accountability.”

The Action Alert came two days after a public meeting about the certification. At the time, EPIC believed that the certification process provided a “real opportunity” to bring about “substantial changes in the manner in which Green Diamond (ex-Simpson Timber) treats public trust resources in our bioregion.” However, after taking part in the public meeting, EPIC was concerned that,

“FSC is not registering nor taking seriously the comments of the public,” and noted that “there is a very real risk that the Forest Stewardship Council could provide certification to Green Diamond without bringing about the necessary transformation of their operations on the ground.”

When SCS published the public report of their audit, EPIC found that they had failed to disclose “a significant amount of information about the process, information which at this juncture remains secret”. EPIC is demanding that the full certification record is made public. EPIC comments that,

The general weakening of FSC standards, and the deterioration of meaningful access and participation for local communities in the FSC certification process, are widespread criticisms of FSC at a regional and global scale. What is particularly troubling is that such a mistake could have been made in the Redwood Temperate Rainforest of northern California.

EPIC is working on an investigation into the certification of Green Diamond. EPIC’s initial review is available on their website and below:

Climate Ignorance

In the year 2013 FSC still fails to take the climate crisis and the essential role of the world’s forests in sequestering atmospheric carbon into account. This is particularly egregious when considering the Redwood Temperate Rainforest Ecosystem enormous potential for capturing carbon and sequestering for thousands of years is unparalleled. By certifying clearcuts in the redwood forests, FSC is squandering an opportunity to encourage forest management that will assist our society in responding to the present climate crisis.

Endangered Species

By Green Diamond’s own admission, the so- called Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Northern Spotted Owl has clearly failed the species. The HCP has allowed the company to continue to destroy owl habitat, resulting in an undeniable decline in the number of owl nesting sites on Green Diamond property. Nevertheless, FSC relies on this failed Green Diamond HCP as evidence of the company’s responsible forest management.

Toxic Legacy

Green Diamond has made a commitment to eliminate the use of atrazine, the pesticide likely to be banned nationally in the near future due to well-documented public health hazards. However, in addition to thousands of pounds of atrazine used by Green Diamond on their property in the past, the company will continue to use many thousands of pounds of other harmful pesticides, such as 2, 4-D, imazpyr, and triclopyr. These substances threaten aquatic species and domestic water supplies, including the Mad River which provides municipal drinking water to tens of thousands of people. In a 2011 Biological Opinion, the National Marine Fisheries Services has concluded that the use of 2,4-D jeopardizes the continued existence of Pacific Coast salmonids.

Community Conflicts

The award of FSC certification comes at a time of heightened local community conflicts over Green Diamond logging. This includes the controversial plans to clearcut at Strawberry Rock near the town of Trinidad, and their proposal to clearcut in the immediate vicinity of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, further exacerbating conflicts with local residents threatened with flooding downstream from Green Diamond holdings on the Elk River.

Transparency and Accountability

In reviewing the public report questions have been raised as to how community concerns and comments were integrated and weighted in the audit process. EPIC will demand access to the full record on deliberations that led to FSC certification for Green Diamond. Guaranteeing full and open access to information is a key tenant of environmental democracy and EPIC will continue to defend this fundamental right.



  1. I want to share with you some of the wording buried in the FSC certification process. t comes from Indicator 6.3.g.1.b and was drafted to inform SCS, third party auditors who do FSC’s on-ground inspections for approvals on the West Coast, when it is appropriate to practice even management, specifically in Pacific NW forests (which obviously includes redwoods).

    It states: “To specify that the required conditions for the use of even-aged management are the following: 1) where it is necessary for establishment and development of the site’s native species composition (given that some tree species are shade intolerant); or 2) where even-aged management is the ecologically most appropriate management regime for the site’s native species or to restore the native species; or 3) where there is a current under-representation of openings compared to historical conditions.”

    Green Diamond was certified in accordance with this indicator. However, redwoods prefer shade and large canopy openings (beyond natural disturbances) invite invasive species, not natives, as the understories of these forests are typically quite shaded. Green Diamond is very familiar with the invasive species their clear cuts invite, so while they have (thank goodness) stopped using Atrazine, they do still use a host of herbicides post-clearcut .. many of which have been found to damaging to salmon populations.

    Furthermore, in the Green Diamond FSC certification report it states that 271,000+ acres of their land holdings are slated for clear cuts – – – and their rate of harvest is “confidential.”

    FSC and SCS refuse to let us see any of the actual auditor reports from SCS, refuse to consider redacting the reports for confidential material and won’t even provide a list of what documents are being withheld from this process.

    Green Diamond can be reached at: 707-668-4400, and corporate at 206.224.5800
    FSC can be reached at 612-353-4511

    For the Wild,
    Bobby Shearer
    Concerned Citizen of Humboldt County, CA

  2. Anyone who wants to see the destruction Green Diamond has caused to their timberlands can easily view this fact on Google Earth. They are having problems with even their replanted GMO mono-culture Redwoods and Doug firs due to the fact that decades of clear-cuts have stripped all of the topsoil needed to regrow their forests. This fact cannot be viewed from Google but all you have to do is hike their timberlands to see the dead and/or dying replanted trees yourself. This is called desertification:

    “The immediate cause is the removal of most vegetation. This is driven by a number of factors, alone or in combination, such as drought, climatic shifts, tillage for agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation for fuel or construction materials. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the biological composition of the soil. Studies have shown that, in many environments, the rate of erosion and runoff decreases exponentially with increased vegetation cover.[17] Unprotected, dry soil surfaces blow away with the wind or are washed away by flash floods, leaving infertile lower soil layers that bake in the sun and become an unproductive hardpan.”

    I used to feel that the SFI(Sustainable Forestry Initiative) was the bogus green-washed choice as opposed to FSC certification. Now the sense of hopelessness is even more clear-cut in regards to the industry watchdogs. If we can’t trust FSC, than who will keep these timber companies honest?

    Fortunately, groups like EPIC and The Center for Biological Diversity are keeping tabs on the industry and the greenwashing committed by FSC and SFI. But they cannot do this without you!

    Visit them at:

    Thank you for your work Bobby!

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