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.
On November 24th, according to a report in the Peruvian newspaper La Republica, police raided the docks in the Amazon port of Iquitos, confiscating the equivalent of 60 heavy truck-loads of timber. The wood, worth around $0.5m, was bound for Mexico and the US – and reportedly 80% of it was owned by the FSC certified company, Inversiones La Oroza SRL. (Posting amended 10/12/15)
A company called Eucalyptus Fibre Congo S.A. is alleged to have paid at least US$76,500 in “black money” to Congolese public officials in 2012. At the time, the company held an FSC chain of custody certificate.
Three weeks ago, Arnaud Labrousse sent an email to Kim Carstensen, FSC’s Director General. Labrousse has a few questions for FSC. Unfortunately, FSC seems reluctant to answer them.
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.
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.
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.
Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telepak release a report about illegal logging in the Mekong Region. The report, titled “Borderlines: Vietnam’s Booming Furniture Industry and Timber Smuggling in the Mekong Region” documents how timber is illegally transported from Laos to Vietnam, where it is made into furniture. Furniture exports from Vietnam are expanding dramatically, relying on huge quantities of illegally-logged timber from Laos and Cambodia.
The FSC is set to continue on its seemingly inexorable slide into becoming a ‘self-certification’ system with new changes to the Chain of Custody procedures. As announced in the most recent FSC Newsletter (see below), the FSC is currently piloting what are called ‘multi-site’ procedures, in which the FSC’s accredited certifiers would not actually check all the relevent company facilities in order to issue a Chain of Custody certificate.