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.
Last month, we reported on how FSC’s former Executive Director, Andre de Freitas, had raised serious doubts about the FSC’s Chain of Custody (CoC) certification mechanism, describing it as a “myth”. Now a new and, for the FSC, more worrying voice has been added to those expressing concern about the integrity of CoC certificates; that of NEPCon, one of FSC’s accredited certifiers.
Motion 65 to the FSC’s General Assembly, its highest decision-making authority, was tabled by Judy Rodrigues of Greenpeace International. The motion was intended to set out new requirements for the FSC when certifying logging companies in what Greenpeace describes as ‘intact forest landscapes’ (or IFLs). These are important large areas of forest which remain undamaged, and are rapidly declining and being fragmented – often by commercial logging – the world over. Greenpeace rightly wishes to see these forests better protected – but has failed to prevent the FSC from legitimising their destruction.
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?
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.