A new report, published jointly by Rap-Al Uruguay and Rel-UITA looks at tree plantation workers and agrotoxic spraying. The research was carried out on plantations operated by FOSA (Forestal Oriental S.A.), a transnational company that is owned by UPM (formerly Botnia) and which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
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.
RAP-AL Uruguay recently published a report on “Working conditions and agrochemical use in Eufores (Ence) and FOSA (Botnia) nurseries”. Both of these operations are FSC-certified. The report, written by María Isabel Cárcamo, is based on research carried out at the nurseries.
The full report (in Spanish) is available here. RAP-AL is The Latin American Network of Action on Pesticides and their Alternatives (La Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas de América Latina).
In November 2004, on a visit to Swaziland with Wally Menne of TimberWatch, I saw the destruction caused by fifty years of industrial forestry “development”. Many of the plantations were established under a British “aid” programme run by the Colonial Development Corporation (now called CDC Group – a private equity company whose sole shareholder is the UK Department for International Development).
As with the development of many other FSC policies, the finalisation of its policy on the use of pesticides has been long and complicated. But at least it seemed to have come to a fairly clear result, when a new policy, and clear guidelines for implementing it, were adopted by the FSC Board at the end of 2005. But this has again all been thrown into doubt, following the most recent FSC Board meeting, which was attended and heavily lobbied by an industry delegation.