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.
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.
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.
It’s official: the FSC is now setting out to use its grotesque Controlled (sic) Wood Policy in order to ‘launder’ wood from areas experiencing recent deforestation into the FSC certified wood supply chain.
In June of this year, we reported on the shocking atrocities against local communities happening in two FSC ‘Controlled Wood’ certified logging operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the two companies concerned, SODEFOR, had, by the time we reported, already had its certificate ‘suspended’, and was the subject of a formal complaint submitted by Greenpeace. The other, SIFORCO, remains certified (by SGS) to this day, but has also recently had a complaint filed against it by Greenpeace.
FSC-Watch has received the following posting from a correspondent with “fifteen years’ experience as an auditor of FSC systems”. Like many people who have worked within the FSC system, and know first-hand the kinds of problems pointed out repeatedly on FSC-Watch, the contributor wishes to make their views known anonymously.
Orwellian: (Pertaining to the author, George Orwell) “Connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the “unperson” – a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments.”
The FSC Secretariat has issued a response to the resignation of important NGO member, FERN, which FSC-Watch reported recently. Whilst the statement naturally tries to play down the significance of FERN’s departure (and pretends that FERN had no concerns about the organisation other than on carbon certification, which it knows to be untrue), it reveals just how firmly in self-denial the FSC remains.
A revealing article posted by leading website on rainforest issues, mongabay.com raises concerns about proposed changes to FSC’s rules, which threaten to open up the flood gates of FSC certification of plantations which have recently been established on former areas of natural forests. At present, FSC prohibits certification of plantations that are on land cleared of forest after 1994.