Here’s a handy guide to 10 of the worst things about FSC. We look forward to reading your suggested additions in the comments.
In 2006, when we started FSC-Watch, we wrote that, “whilst the structural problems within the FSC system have been known for many years, the formal mechanisms of governance and control, including the elected Board, the General Assembly, and the Complaints Procedures have been highly ineffective in addressing these problems.”
Unfortunately, that still remains true today.
1. The certifying bodies (assessors) are paid by the companies wanting to get certified. It is in the assessors’ interest not to get a reputation for being too “difficult”, otherwise they will not be hired in future. This is a clear conflict of interest.
2. FSC certifies industrial tree plantations. Vast areas of monocultures have been certified as “well managed”, despite the impacts on the environment and local communities.
3. If a company doesn’t comply with the Principles and Criteria, assessors can issue corrective action requests. So at the time a consumer is buying the certified product, the certified company may still be in the process of complying.
5. FSC is certifying carbon offset projects. Carbon trading will not address climate change, because it allows pollution elsewhere to continue. Some of FSC’s most egregious certifications involved carbon projects in Uganda.
6. The certifying bodies have a stranglehold over the FSC International Secretariat.
7. FSC certifies the logging of primary forests.
8. The complaints mechanism doesn’t work.
9. FSC does not address the underlying causes of deforestation. If a destructive logging company does not want to get certified (Rimbunan Hijau, for example), there is absolutely nothing that FSC can do. Rather than attempting to address over-consumption, FSC encourages consumption, provided the product carries an FSC label.
10. Despite increasing criticism (including in recent years from Greenpeace), several key NGO members leaving (FERN, FoE EWNI, Robin Wood, SSNC etc.), FSC has stubbornly refused to address the structural problems that the organisation faces.