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.
Last month, FSC-Watch received the following post about SmartWood’s certification of Hancock Victorian Plantations. Early in February, a large area of Hancock’s plantations burned down: part of the tragic fires which saw the loss of more than 200 lives and 1,800 homes. More information about the fires is available here.
The controversy over SGS Qualifor’s certification of Veracel deepened last week with two-pages of articles in the Brasil de Fato newspaper. The articles (in Portuguese, links below) note the recent court decision against Veracel, fining Veracel US$12.5 million and ruling that the company must remove eucalyptus trees covering an area of 96,000 hectares and replant native forest.
In a shock announcement, South Africa-based SGS Qualifor – FSC’s second largest certifier – has said that it has taken a ‘business decision’ not to issue any further FSC forest management certificates, pending a ‘review’ of it’s forest management certification processes. The announcement, made on the FSC’s website, is believed to pre-empt an imminent decision by the FSC Secretariat to formally suspend SGS’s accreditation worldwide. SGS has recently been forced to withdraw several non-compliant certificates, including in Guyana and Spain, following damning assessments by FSC’s Accreditation Services International; in April this year, the certifier was also banned from all certification activities in Poland.
In the past, FSC-Watch has been welcoming towards the work of Accreditation Services International (ASI), the FSC body which is supposed to ensure that the FSC’s Principles and Criteria are upheld by the accredited certifiers. There is no doubt that monitoring of the certifiers has improved in recent years. But, for every audit of the certifiers carried out by ASI, there has been a failure to take meaningful action – even in cases where certifiers have been found by ASI to have issued certificates to blatantly non-compliant forest managers.