In December 2006, FSC-Watch reported on how the FSC had bowed to pressure from the plantation industry to ‘freeze’ implementation of its pesticides policy, which prohibits the use of a chemicals included on FSC’s ‘banned’ list. Under a decision taken by the International Board, FSC decided to extend until the end of June 2007 the deadline by which forestry companies had to apply for special ‘derogation’ permission to continue using banned chemicals. But FSC-Watch can now reveal that FSC has conspired to allow use of banned chemicals even where no derogation has been granted – and has now removed one of the major ‘safeguards’ that ensured that pesticide derogations were supported by local stakeholders.
Debate is growing in the US about the certification of public forests with FSC and the so-called Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) being the front-running schemes. There are good reasons to question whether, in its current state, FSC is an appropriate tool for certification of the vast areas of forest which are in state and federal public ownership in the US, and which in many cases have very high values for recreational, cultural and nature protection purposes. Some of the potential problems are starkly illustrated by one of the existing major FSC certifications of public forest lands, that of the 1.6 million hectares of the Michigan state forests as managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
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.
The Galician environmental group Asociacion Pola Defensa da Ria (APDR) has submitted a formal complaint to the FSC about the certification of plantation company NORFOR and the assessment of it’s certifier, SGS that was undertaken by FSC’s Accreditation Services International. In their complaint, APDR argues that the FSC-ASI report on SGS’s certification of NORFOR is not only of very low quality, but it also fails to address the majority of the criticisms of NORFOR presented by a number of NGOs. Although the FSC-ASI report on the certification recognises a serious lack of compliance with FSC’s principles and criteria, it does not analyse more controversial points such as relations with local communities and benefits from the forests.
To some people, such as Mayor Salvatore Perillo of Ocean City, New Jersey, USA, the FSC represents the ‘Gold Standard’ of forest certification; an assurance that wood comes from well-managed and properly independently audited sources. But Mayor Perillo, and many others, would do well to know what lies behind the FSC’s claims. One of the more shocking examples – Jurua Forestal Ltda, which is felling timber in the Brazilian rainforest – is a potential supplier of ipe timber for the imminent repair of Perillo’s Ocean City sea-front boardwalks.
Earlier this year, FSC-Watch reported on the curious circumstances surrounding the ‘suspension’ of Bureau Veritas’s (BV) accreditation by FSC for, as yet unrevealed, problems with the certification of the Cameroonian rainforest logging company, Wijma. We now learn that, whilst Bureau Veritas remains prohibited from carrying out FSC certifications in Cameroon, it has just started the process of trying certify the massive logging operations of Rougier, in neighbouring Gabon.
One of the several issues raised in our earlier posting on the FSC in Russia was the case of the ‘Komi Model Forest Project’, which is taking place in the Komi Republic, north-western Russia. The reports we have received below indicate that this project, which is used as a ‘model’ for certified forestry operations in European Russia, may be a model of what not to do, rather than one of good practice. It once again raises questions about the competence of SmartWood as an FSC-accredited certifier, and about WWF’s relationships with forestry companies.
FSC-Watch has been sent the following article by Svetlana Alekseeva, Chief Editor of “Forest Certification”. It raises a number of serious questions about the motivation of various ‘stakeholders’ involved in FSC certifications in Russia.
It was announced today that FSC’s largest certificate for tropical forest management, had been suspended. The certificate, issued by SGS-Qualifor to the Barama company, the Guyanese subsidiary of the controversial Malaysian-based logging transnational, Samling, was put on hold following an investigation by the FSC’s Accreditation Service International (ASI) in November 2006.
For only the second time in its 13-year history, the FSC has suspended the accreditation of one of its certifiers.
However, as with most of FSC’s dealings with the certifiers, the reasons for the suspension of the Swiss based Institut für Marktökologie (IMO), on 22nd September, are not entirely clear. All that the FSC Secretariat has said is that the decision was taken against IMO “for performing new evaluations and issuing new FSC forest management certificates in Chile” – and even this information was buried in an unassuming document on FSC’s website.