In recent years, the UK-based NGO Earthsight has produced a series of investigative reports featuring the problems with the Forest Stewardship Council. These include exposing illegal Russian timber and illegal Ukrainian timber, both certified as legal and sustainable by FSC and sold by IKEA; and illegal Peruvian timber, FSC-certified and on sale by Robinson Lumber in the USA.
At the start of last year’s FSC General Assembly Earthsight coordinated an open letter to FSC, highlighting what’s wrong with FSC and demanding immediate reforms. The letter was signed by 34 organisations.
Over the past weeks FSC has held a consultation on changing its policy on genetically engineered trees. For years FSC’s policy on genetically engineered trees has been confusing and weak. FSC is now trying to dismantle its already weak position by allowing field testing of GE trees.
Hoarding of toilet paper started in early February 2020 in Hong Kong after consumers panicked themselves into believing that the coronavirus outbreak in China would disrupt supplies. Within days, toilet paper shelves were empty in the supermarkets. Social media helped fuel the hoarding, which quickly spread across the world from Sydney to London to Washington DC.
On 27 February 2019, the organisation Water for Citizens of Weed, California (WCWC) filed a complaint with the Forest Stewardship Council against timber company Roseburg Forest Products.
WCWC argued that FSC should dissociate from Roseburg because the company was attempting to profit from the town’s water supply, by selling it to a bottled water company called Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring.
“FSC controlled wood is material from acceptable sources that can be mixed with FSC-certified material in products that carry the FSC Mix label.”
That’s how FSC describes “Controlled wood” on its website. The reality is that FSC is no guarantee of legality.
In fact, “controlled wood” doesn’t even exclude products from companies that FSC has disassociated itself from.
Greenpeace International has (at long last) decided to leave the Forest Stewardship Council. In an statement, Greenpeace International announces the decision:
Greenpeace International was a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), but now has decided not to renew its FSC membership due to inconsistent implementation and failures to protect forests.
This is a massive blow to FSC’s credibility.
Last week at Manchester Magistrates Court a timber company called Hardwood Dimensions (Holdings) Ltd was found to be in breach of regulations prohibiting the import and sale of illegally harvested timber.
“Based on a review of 40 studies, we found that certified tropical forests are overall better for the environment than forests managed conventionally.”
That’s the opening sentence of a recent article on Mongabay, titled, “Does forest certification really work?”
But the conclusion is based far more on wishful thinking than on any scientific evidence. The opening line of the article was amended within a week of being posted to include the words “of variable quality”.
Yesterday, at the FSC General Assembly in Vancouver, FSC members voted in favour of a motion to scrap the ban on the certifying plantations that were established on forests cleared after 1994.
On December 8th, FSC Brazil announced that the certificate of the country’s largest certified forestry operation, Jari, had been suspended following raids on companies suspected of massive fraud and laundering of illegal timber. Such certificate suspensions or terminations usually provoke claims from FSC’s supporters and apologists that “this shows that the system is working” – because unworthy companies are losing their endorsement. More often, however, it merely raises questions as to how the company was ever certified in the first place, and how it maintained its certificate for often many years despite there being clear problems. Jari is certainly one of these cases. Inevitably, it also raises serious questions about the ability of the FSC to properly control the work of the certification companies – and whether wood-users were misled about the acceptability of the company’s certified products in the mean time. (more…)