Green Resources’ industrial tree plantations in Uganda continue to cause problems for local communities. Whenever journalists or academics document the problems, the company points out that its plantations are FSC-certified.
The FSC sank to new levels of farce this week with a decision that in effect means that the organisation has lodged a complaint against itself.
On 22 September 2011, Oxfam released a report about a UK-based company called New Forests. Oxfam’s researchers visited the company’s plantations in Uganda and found that more than 22,000 people were kicked off the land to make way for the company’s monocultures. Oxfam made public what FSC’s certifying body, SGS, had somehow managed to ignore for the past two years. Accreditation Services International (ASI) in turn found out nothing about the evictions when it carried out an audit of SGS in 2010. New Forests Company has put out a statement explaining that it “takes Oxfam’s allegations extremely seriously and will conduct an immediate and thorough investigation”.
On 25 May 2009, SGS Qualifor issued an FSC certificate to New Forest Company for its plantations in Uganda. Less than two months later, more than 10,000 villagers petitioned the lands minister to stop New Forest Company from evicting them from their homes. They accused armed groups of beating people, abducting them and destroying their crops and houses. Below are two articles about New Forest Company, one from the Ugandan newspaper,New Vision and one from World Rainforest Movement.
In 2007, SGS Qualifor certified Mount Elgon National Park as “well managed” under the FSC system. Accreditation Services International found that SGS Qualifor’s certification was based on hoped for future improvements, rather than what was actually happening in the National Park. ASI, however, failed to take any meaningful action against SGS Qualifor.
The FACE Foundation, a Dutch carbon offset company, claims on its website that its tree planting projects at Mount Elgon and Kibale national parks in Uganda are both certified by FSC. While Mount Elgon is FSC certified (despite major, ongoing land disptues), the FACE Foundation’s project at Kibale is no longer FSC certified.
Last year, Accreditation Services International (ASI) discovered that SGS’s certification of Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda was based on hoped for future improvements, rather than what was actually happening in the National Park. ASI, however, failed to take any meaningful action against SGS.
World Rainforest Movement recently published a report I wrote with Timothy Byakola of the Ugandan NGO Climate Development Initiatives, about an FSC-certified carbon sink project at Mount Elgon in Uganda. The report, “‘A funny place to store carbon’: UWA-FACE Foundation’s tree planting project in Mount Elgon National Park, Uganda”, includes a section on the SGS-Qualifor certification of the project.
Since 1994, a Dutch organisation called the FACE Foundation has been planting trees in Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda. The FACE Foundation aims to sell carbon credits based on the amount of carbon stored in the trees planted. FACE aims to plant a total of 25,000 hectares of which 8,500 hectares has been planted.