FSC has 'failed the world's forests' say critics
Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com
March 26, 2008
Timber certification body under attack from environmentalists for slipping standards
Last week the World Rainforest Movement released a scathing press release calling a decision by the FSC to certify eucalyptus plantations in Brazil its "death certificate." The eucalyptus plantations are owned by Veracel, a partnership between Aracruz Celulose of Brazil and Stora Enso of Sweden-Finland, which has a shaky environmental record. The press release alleges that Veracel "has a very well known record of harmful actions, including violating local communities' rights over land, to environmental pollution, water depletion and ecosystem destruction." World Rainforest Movement's greatest concern, however, is that by certifying Veracel's eucalyptus plantations, the FSC is stating that large-scale monoculture plantations are environmentally sound, socially responsible, and beneficial to local people. Whereas research has shown that monoculture plantations support little biodiversity, result in CO2 emissions relative to natural forests, and undermine the efforts of local people to manage forests in a sustainable manner. In calling this decision the FSC's "death certificate" the World Rainforest Movement asserts that "the certification of Veracel is not an isolated fact, but the last piece in a chain of failures."
"It has become evident to environmentalists in the know that FSC has become an obstacle to ending ancient forest destruction, addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, and promoting desirable ecologically based practices in regenerating and planted forests," Ecological Internet founder Dr. Glen Barry told mongabay.com. "The organization is plagued with conflicts of interest, poor quality assurance mechanisms, and generally has failed the world's forests. As such, we are in the uncomfortable position of protesting greenwashing NGO FSC supporters, who are finding it quite difficult to acknowledge they have been critical in creating and maintaining the FSC myth."
Both of the reports emerged after face-saving efforts by the FSC in Indonesia where an inquiry by The Wall Street Journal last year prompted the organization to effectively revoke certification for a Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper Co. (APP) project on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The admission, which environmentalists said showed the FSC had relaxed its certification standards to the point at which APP could qualify for the eco-label despite a poor environmental record, threatened to undermine the credibility of its labeling scheme.
A report released this week by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telepak on illegal logging in Southeast Asia has provided further trouble for the FSC. The report uncovered that corporations are getting away with lying about certification. Furniture companies YourPriceFurniture.com and Kybotech Ltd. both claimed that all their products were FSC certified when the claim was patently untrue. Both companies sell wood furniture that has never received FSC certification. According to the report, Kybotech Ltd. when pressed admitted that "certain furniture sets were not actually certified."
While its future seems increasingly precarious, the FSC still possesses widespread support from large environmental global players. Further no one has yet proposed a viable replacement for the should the organization does not survive rising criticism
In the meantime consumers are left increasingly in the dark when trying to purchase environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsible wood products. Caught in an environmental Catch-22, eco-conscious consumers who want to avoid supporting large-scale monoculture plantations and old-growth logging, seem forced to avoide both FSC certified and non-certified furniture.
The FSC did not reply to Mongabay's request for comment.
- World Rainforest Movement (2008). Veracel: FSC's Death Certificate.
- Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak (2008). Borderlines. 19 March 2008
- Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (2008). Forest certification not good enough
- Barry, G. (2008). "Forest Liars" Campaign Launches. Ecological Internet March 8, 2008
- Butler, R. (2008). WSJ inquiry pushes FSC to cancel logging certification in endangered forest (mongabay.com)
- Butler, R. (2008). Norway bans tropical timber (mongabay.com)
FSC-Watch.org tracks criticism of the FSC