This is probably not the kind of publicity that FSC was hoping for around its 3-yearly love-in, the General Assembly. But as the FSC’s members make their way home from Seville, no doubt full of self-congratulation for the ‘progress’ they are making, the reality is becoming increasingly hard to avoid: the FSC system is in deep crisis.
Greenpeace has just released a very critical report about FSC’s failure to prevent forest destruction even in FSC certified logging operations in Russia. The report is titled, “FSC in Russia: Certifying the Destruction of Intact Forest Landscapes” and can be downloaded here. Greenpeace reports that,
The FSC is failing to distinguish good forest management practices from the typical model of unsustainable forest exploitation widely employed in intact boreal, or taiga, forests. It is therefore failing in its mission to be a tool for forest protection.
A recent paper in the Journal of Business Ethics provides an in-depth case study of FSC as a multi-stakeholder initiative.
The report, which is titled, “The Politics of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: The Crisis of the Forest Stewardship Council”, found that FSC has failed to transform commercial forestry practices and has not had a meaningful impact on stopping tropical deforestation.
FSC’s Policy of Association does not allow FSC to associate with companies that introduce genetically modified organisms into forestry operations. Suzano is FSC-certified and plans to plant GE trees on a commercial scale. Will FSC therefore dissociate from Suzano?
As the FSC is considering how it should engage with potential future forest carbon trading schemes – and will no doubt be under pressure from the certification bodies, such as SGS and Rainforest Alliance, to move into this potentially lucrative market – it should take heed of recent developments concerning the United Nations scheme to certify international carbon credits.
We have received the following from ‘Alert against the Green Desert Network’ in Brazil, reporting on the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) continuing occupation of part of the illegal (but FSC certified) plantations owened by Veracel. As we previously reported, the Veracel certification has been highly controversial; despite FSC itself finding that the certificate showed “a number of nonconformities with FSC accreditation requirements”, the certificate still remains in place and SGS Qualifor, which was responsible for issuing it, remains accredited by FSC. The inability of FSC to deal with such cases has prompted at least one NGO to quit its membership of FSC international.
Another long-standing European NGO member of FSC has announced its intention to withdraw its membership of the organisation in protest at what it sees as FSC’s failure to prevent the certification of non-compliant companies. The Hamburg-based Robin Wood has been a member of FSC for 12 years. The group says in a statement issued on March 16th that it will continue working with the German national FSC group, but will end cooperation with FSC international. As with a growing number of NGOs, Robin Wood acknowledges that FSC is ‘the most credible’ forest certification system – but seemingly no longer credible enough to be associated with.
FSC members are becoming increasingly bemused by some of the ‘side events’ being set up for the General Assembly, including a seminar on ‘Ecological Networks for Biodiversity Conservation’, hosted by the South African plantations company, Mondi. But as the FSC slips ever further into blatant corporate-sponsored greenwashing, attendees will nevertheless have an opportunity to listen to an alternative viewpoint on FSC and plantations, to be presented at a ‘non-official’ side event hosted by local NGO Timberwatch, and the Global Forest Coalition. We post information about the event below. The organisers have said that they will try and ensure access to everyone that wishes to attend, but space is limited, and entry will be on a ‘first come first serve’ basis.