In August this year, FSC proudly announced that it had ‘re-associated’ itself with the Swiss timber conglomerate, Danzer. But there remain serious doubts about whether FSC’s credibility will be further damaged by this decision.
Things only get worse for the FSC in Africa. Following the cancellation of the biggest certificate in Cameroon (SFEAC), the partial cancellation of the biggest certificate in Republic of Congo and sale of its holder (CIB) to a palm oil trader, now comes news that the high profile and largest certificate in the Democratic Republic of Congo has also been struck from FSC’s register of certified operations.
The outcome of Greenpeace’s complaint against Congolese logging company SODEFOR, announced by the FSC on March 23rd, will probably not please the complainants very much, but it once again has served to highlight some of the glaring weaknesses in the FSC system.
Certification in any of the countries in the Congo Basin was always going to stretch the credibility of the FSC system to the limit – as the miserable experiences in Cameroon of companies such as SEFAC and Wijma have shown (the former of which remains ‘suspended’ for forest management but, illogically, still certified for Chain of Custody). Sadly, because the FSC is unable to control its certifiers, these lessons seem not to have been learned; allowing its certifiers to issue certificates in DR Congo was always bound to end in disaster.
On the eve of its 2011 General Assembly, FSC is facing a barrage of criticism as a result of failing to deal with the multiple problems that it has been presented with over the last decade. The growing sense amongst members, and especially NGOs, is that time has run out. Another of FSC’s key NGO supporters has already recently quit.
Back in December 2006, we reported on the curious announcement by German multinational timber company, Danzer, about its intention to ‘cooperate’ with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in order to get its massive Congolese logging operations FSC certified. Less than two years ago, Per Rosenberg, Director of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network gushingly proclaimed that “We believe that the cooperation between WWF and Danzer represents an important shift towards responsible forestry for some of the world’s most threatened forests in the Congo Basin. WWF looks forward to working with Danzer to realize their commitment”.
In September 2006, WWF and the large German tropical logging company Danzer issued the joint press release below, announcing Danzer’s intention to obtain FSC certification. The announcement stated that Danzer’s operations in the Republic of Congo were ‘scheduled’ to be certified in 2008, whilst the larger concessions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be certified in 2010.