FSC-Watch has several times in the last eighteen months reported on the FSC-certified ‘chainsaw massacre’ taking place in the state forest lands of Massachusetts, USA. Managed by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), 285,000 acreas of forest had been certified by California-based Scientific Certification Systems Inc (SCS) since 2004.
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).
A US timber company is suing a New Jersey city authority over its cancellation of a controversial order of FSC certified lumber for repair of its ocean-front boardwalks. In the latest development in this long-running debacle, which has exposed gaping weaknesses in the FSC’s Chain of Custody system, the Louis Grasmick Lumber company of Baltimore has said that it will sue the Ocean City authorities for $1.2 million.
The most recent report of the official Independent Forest Monitor in Nicaragua, the London-based NGO Global Witness, has once again called into question the ability of FSC’s accredited certifiers to detect illegalities in certified forestry operations. The December 2007 report notes that “The Monitor was not able to detect a significantly different level of legal compliance between certified and uncertified forest”.